Tuesday, November 30

Book Review Day After Night

Title: Day After Night

Author: Anita Diamant

Pages: 294

Summary: Day After Night is based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for “illegal” immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa. The story is told through the eyes of four young women at the camp who survived the Holocaust: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leoniel a Parisian beauty; Tedi, a hidden Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor.

Haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to hope, the four of them find salvation in the bounds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.

My Rating: 9.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Beautiful and powerful, this book caught me a bit off guard, with the story line of four women and their struggle for survival. It’s hard to know where to start, because the book had so many powerful moments, some of which had me teary-eyed. The author did a wonderful job at portraying characters, and reactions of the new comers to the camps, to be released from one prison, and sent to essentially another one, must have been heart wrenching - even if this “wasn’t a prison” like before, their reactions were done with every emotional detail brought to the surface.

I also enjoyed the slow build up to the rescue and all the events surrounding their, I think the author did a fantastic job at setting the mood for it during, and after the rescue, she really brought her characters to life. I found them to be very believable, and three dimensional, which made for a better reading experience. I didn’t exactly like all the characters, but I did find I was wrapped up in their history, their background and who will survive in the end. The author made sure she had the reader’s attention through out the book, and this is one that is heavy on the emotions.

What I didn’t like there wasn’t much I didn’t like. Some times I felt the building of the friendship of the woman was a little drawn out, a lot of repetitive moments etc. I understand why it was done, because of the emotional and psychological scarring that happened to the woman, but I felt like the same thing kept happening when revealing how these friendships formed. I felt the same with the character development, at times I felt like I read the same thing about the character before, as they revealed it to themselves and others. This isn’t a big issue in the book, and easy to look over, but I did find it there.

Overall, it was a wonderful story of four strong women, on how they survived one of the most horrific events in our history. This book is well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, I think this book is high on my recommend reads list. It is a powerful story of survival, and a well done story on the after effects of WWII, something that isn’t talked about a lot, often hushed up and forgotten, this story gives the voices back to those held in these camps, after the war was done. I also think any fan of historical fiction surrounding WWII would enjoy the book, it focuses on a different aspect of the war, but it's still a good WWII story.

What to read next: War on the Margins, The Postmistress, Guernsey and Potato Peel Pie Society

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Fall into Reading Challenge, RYOB Challenge, Women Unbound Challenge

Book Review: Murder at the Vicarage

Title: Murder at the Vicarage

Author: Agatha Christie

Pages: 288

Summary: When Colonel Protheroe is found dead from a single gun-shot wound to the head, none of his neighbours in the village of St. Mary Mead is much surprised. So many people wished this local official would say farewell - if not so quite permanently.

Murder at the Vicarage marks the debut of Agatha Christie’s unflappable and much beloved female detective, Miss Jane Marple, whose keen insight into human nature and intricate knowledge of the goings on in St. Mary Mead land her at the very center of the investigation. Scandal lurks just under the quite surface of this English village, and the suspects abound, including the vicar and his young and flirtatious wife, and Mrs. Protherose and her lover, the artist Lawrence Redding. Everyone it seems, has something to hide. With the local police stymied, it is up to Miss Marple to root out the killer.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Another book, I’m just not to sure of. I didn’t hate the book, but I didn’t enjoy it either. I’ve read four Agatha Christie books now, and I have to say I’m not that impressed. She’s not a horrible author, actually the writing is exceptionally well done, but the content just doesn’t excite me, and this book was no exception.

For a murder mystery, not a lot of interesting things happen, mostly it seems to focus on the people around the murder, and how they all fit together in this small community, and less about the mystery solving and snooping around. I didn’t like the characters, and the story of behind the murder and surrounding it just bored me. There wasn’t much that kept me into the book except it was a quick and east read, and had some quality writing to it. Not my favourite book.

Would I recommend it to read: I’m not sure, although this is better than The Body in the Library, it wasn’t better by much. If you want to read an Agatha Christie book I’d try Murder on the Orient Express as a starting spot.

What to read next: Sherlock Holmes are great books to read if you want a good old fashioned mystery, and Murder on the Orient Express was also a good book to read.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Hercule Poirot Holmes Challenge, Support Your Library Challenge


Book Review: The Jewel of St. Petersburgh

Title: The Jewel of St. Petersburg

Author: Kate Furnivall

Pages: 410

Summary: Russia, 1910. The young Valentina Ivanova is the darling of St. Petersburg’s elite aristocracy charming them with both her classic Russian beauty and her talent for piano. But it is a scandal when she chooses her love not from their stock or even from Russian blood. Her romance with Jens Friis a Danish engineer, brings her life a passion and intimacy she has never known. Unbending in their opposition, her parents push her into a loveless engagement with a Russian count

Valenteina struggles to claim her own independence. But at the same time she is desperate to protect her young sister from the dangerous tumult that is sweeping through the city.
Meanwhile, Russia itself is bound for rebellion. With the tsar and the duma at each other’s throats, and the Bolsheviks drawing their battle lines, the elegance and opulence of tsarist rule are in their last days. And Valentina will be forced to make a choice that will change not only her own life, but the lives of those around her forever . . .

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Wonderful book which at times devoured it, even the romance stuff which normally I’m not a fan of, had me hooked until the end.
This book had a lot of elements I enjoy in a novel, and some I don’t, like heavy romantic background story - but even that had grabbed my attention, there seemed to be a fairly good balance of everything in the book, historical fiction, romance with a slight twist of general/contemporary lit (day to day life, etc.) The historical fiction side, particularly on the Revolution, was very well done, it really grabbed my interest, and had me wanting to learn more about the Russian Revolution, and the history surrounding the events before and after it.

The characters were generally well done, although at times I felt they were a little stereotypical roles in this type of fiction, I still enjoyed reading about them. The author did do a good job at ensuring the reading could feel engaged with the characters, and at times, you were able to feel the emotions the characters were going through. But, as I said above at times I felt they the characters were a bit stereotypical. It wasn’t an overly bad thing, but it was something I’ve seen a lot. (For example, the rich girl from well to do family, with devious father, falls in love with peasant kind of character), but still, they weren’t bad, and over all I enjoyed reading about them.

One other issue is I felt time went buy in the book in odd spaces, and there wasn’t much notification to the reader. It was a bit inconstant at times. I wish there was more indication of when a large amount of time went by, or there had been more filler between the big jumps. I wanted a little more out of what I got. Not a big problem, but it was something I notice.

The ending, let’s just say the last few paragraphs are, intense, and at one point I was seconds away from hurling the book across the room (which would have been bad, as I was at a lunch break at the time), but the last sentence stopped me. I will stop right here. It was amazing, that last sentence. Made for a very good ending!

Overall, it was a very good book, and a great choice for any historical fiction fan.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, even for people who aren’t that big on historical fiction or romantic historical fiction stories (it’s not big on love scenes, but it is a romantic story) would enjoy the book. I think there are a few people who wouldn’t enjoy it, but overall well worth reading.

What to read next: City of Thieves, The Sixth Surrendor

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge, Fall into Reading Challenge, RYOB Challenge

I received this book to review from the publisher.



Saturday, November 6

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Title: Murder of the Orient Express: A Hercule Poirot Mystery

Author: Agatha Christie

Pages: 347 (E-Book Version)

Summary: Agatha Christie's most famous murder mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer -- in case he or she decides to strike again.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I really enjoyed this mystery, I actually found myself trying to piece together the mystery and solve it, and although I guessed whodunit, half way through the book, it was still a fun read and one of my favourite Christie mysteries to date.

The characters weren’t really that special to me, that was one issue I did have with the book, no one realty stood out for me. Although I did enjoy Hercule Poriot’s character, he can be bit of a snobby-arrogant arse at times, but I think that’s what makes him a bit unique, is that he isn’t the typical detective out, a bit different. Maybe even a character you love to hate
The plot of the book - the murder mystery - and how it all connected really had my interest until the end. Christie really knew how to set up a good mystery, layout the clues and small red herrings to fool the reader, and encourage them to keep reading until the murderer is revealed in the end. And I did just that. I was itching to find out who the murder was and how the murder all played out, what were the circumstances of it, how they did it and why. Christie does a great job at engaging the reader into her mysteries, which makes the book that more interesting, because I find that a lot of the murder mysteries have the same formula, so you can easily get bored with it, with Christie, and especially with this book, the reader becomes part of the mystery solving, as they piece out the clues with Poirot. Good read overall.

Would I recommend it to read: I’d definitely read recommend this Christie book. It’s my third book by the author, and it is by far my favourite. This book has revived my interest in the author’s other works. If you haven’t read anything by the author yet, I’d say start here.

What to read next: I’d say more Poirot Mysteries. I’ve only read one Miss Marple book, but I wasn’t that impressed with her, so I’d say Poirot for now.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, E-Book Challenge, The Marple-Porirot-Holmes Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge


Wednesday, November 3

October Wrap-Up!

Can you believe there is only about 60 some odd days left in the year? (Actually, I think it's less than that now), which means there are only so many days left to read all the books I've planned to read this year, where does the time go? I have to say, October blew right by for me, but I did get a lot accomplished. I participated in 24 Hour Read-a-thon again this fall, although I didn't make the full 24 hours, I did get a lot of books read. I also finished a lot of books this month, and it was one of my most successful months for reading. January still has been my best month, but this is a very close second.

This month I read 12 books, which is great for me, usually I've been reading only about 6 books a month, but this month I doubled that. Not only that, but I managed to read some pretty great books this month to boot. All in all, a good month for books.

Books!!

My favourite book this month was Ireland by Frank Delaney. The Road was a close second. Both books I highly recommend. Especially Ireland. My least favourite, The Hour Before Dawn and the Sixth Surrender. There were a few books I didn't enjoy this month, but those two were probably the worse of the bunch.
  1. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway - 7.75/10
  2. The Road - Cormac McCarthy - 9.5/10
  3. Hearts at Stake - Alyxandra Harvey - 7/10
  4. The Sixth Surrender - Hana Samek Norton - 5/10
  5. Ireland - Frank Delaney- 9.75/10
  6. Stolen - Kelly Armstrong -8.75/10
  7. The Hours - Michael Cunningham - 8.5/10
  8. Hour Before Dawn - Sarah MacDonald - 4.5/10
  9. The Body in the Library - Agatha Christie - 5.5/10
  10. Night Runner - Max Turner - 7.25
  11. Water for Elephants - Sarah Gruen - 9/10
  12. Evermore - Alyson Noel -5.75/10

Challenges

This month was a good, no, great, month for challenges for me. I managed to get a leg up in some challenges, and I completed four challenges as well! Yay Me! I did fail a challenge, mainly because I thought it ended in November, not October, but I was close to finishing it. So close!

Completed Challenges

Chunkster Challenge - 4 Books Read
2nds Reading Challenge - 6 Books Read
Global Challenge - 12 Books Read
Fantasy Reading Challenge - 6 Books Read

On-Going Challenges

10/10 Challenge - 64/100
18th and 19th Century Women Writers - 2/3
100+ Challenge - 69/100
451 Reading Challenge - 3/7
A - Z Challenge - 38/52
Bibilophilic Challenge - 4/6
Canadian Book Challenge IV - 10/13
Centuries Challenge - 2/?
Chick Lit Challenge - 0/8
Decades Challenge - 3/10
Ebook Challenge - 0/6
Fall into Reading Challenge - 4/25
Flashback Challenge - 0/6(+?)
Finish that Series Challenge - 0/3 Series
Global Reading Challenge - 11/12
Jane Austen Challenge - 0/4
The Marple Poitot Holmes Challenge - 4/6
Reading Through the Seasons Challenge - 1/4
RYOB Challenge - 38/50
Support Your Local Library Challenge - 30/50
TBR Lite Challenge - 0/6
A Tournament of Reading - 1/3
War Through the Generations: Vietnam - 2/5
Women Unbound Challenge - 4/8

Failed/DNF/Dropped Challenges

2010 Countdown Challenge - 40/55

Countries Visited

I visited a new place this month, New Zealand, I also visited England, Canada, USA, Ireland, France, Spain. So another international month. For me. I also realized I've missed a few countries from my map, so I've included them.


visited 41 states (18.2%)
Create your own visited map of The World



Books Bought/Followed Me Home/Review

Hmm.... here we go.

1) The Kitchen House - Kathleen Grissom
2) The Gathering Storm - Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
3) Dime Store Magic - Kelly Armstrong
4) The Fallen - Stephen Finucan
5) Day After Night - Anita Diamant
6) Brooklyn - Colm Tobin
7) Jane Austen - Seven Novels - Complete Works Leather Bound - Jane Austen
8) The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Leather Bound - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
9) Sacred Hearts - Sarah Dunant
10) Evening Class - Maeve Binchy
11) Shannon - Frank Delaney
12) Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
13) Impartial Witness - Charles Todd
14) Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes - Jude Morgan
15) Moonlight in Odessa - Jane Skesleen Charles (Review Book)

This and That
Oh, and I've been doing some work on the side bars and navigation link list at the top. Some links do not work yet, so clicking on them just brings you back to the main page of the site. I've done this intentionally so I can see how it all looks. Also, I do have my own domain name now, it should have updated everything automatically, but just in case it hasn't update your readers!

And that's my October, Happy Reading!