I can count on one hand the number of books I've read more than once. I just don't do it. I've got a TBR pile the height of the house, and so little t...moreI can count on one hand the number of books I've read more than once. I just don't do it. I've got a TBR pile the height of the house, and so little time to get through them all, so why would I want to re-read something?
Well, I've had my eyes wiped with this one. I re-read it as one of the real life reading groups I go to, had it as their choice for June. I loved it the first time I read it, and wanted to participate fully in the discussion, to do it justice.
I didn't race through it the second time I read it, as I suppose my hunger to find out what happened to all the amazing characters wasn't there as in the first read. However, I was really surprised at how much I had forgotten and how enjoyable it was to read it all again, and soak up the beautiful story and detail for a second time.
I think it is a very clever book, which when you first hear is narrated by death, could be a bit off putting. It is remarkable to see the Second World War through the eyes of a young girl, who has had her life torn apart with the loss of her family. She finds much comfort immersing herself in books and with the support of her foster family, who have nothing, she has an amazing outlook on life. The tragedy that pans out in the Book Thief, claws at you, yet it is beautiful, heartfelt and makes you question which side of the fence you would be on if you were put in a similar situation.
I also believe that books, reading and writing could save your sanity if left in confinement, as many of the hidden exiled Jews were.
I've often pondered what book I would have as my Desert Island choice, I think this could be contender, as in all honesty I think I could even read it a third time!
I first heard about this book via an interview with the author Kate Lord Brown over at Caroline Smailes blog. I was immediately intrigued with the sto...moreI first heard about this book via an interview with the author Kate Lord Brown over at Caroline Smailes blog. I was immediately intrigued with the story surrounding the female civilian pilots who flew planes during WW2. Kate explains that the original idea came from seeing an obituary for one of the original female pilots in one of her husband's flying magazines. She was wowed that women flew spitfires and she started on a path of in depth research to find out more. Interviewing the real 'spitfire girls' and immersing herself in archives.
I think this research was what made the novel such a success for me. It would be easy to think the story was quite fanciful, romantic and even a little far fetched at times. However, knowing that these events and activities did actually take place takes it to a whole different level. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up at times reading about the bravery of these girls.
I really fell in love with the three main characters. Evie Chase is a young rich socialite and signs up to the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary), initially to escape life under the regime of her step mother. She forgoes her luxury lifestyle and bunks in with her fellow trainees. Evie is typical of the ATA pilots, in that she is a young and glamorous, gaining the ATA their nickname of The Beauty Chorus.
Stella Grainger has joined up to escape the sadness of leaving her baby behind in Ireland with her in-laws, struggling with being a single parent.
Megan Jones is a young girl with a passion for flying. Losing her brother has made her want to do her duty for the war effort.
All three girls are thrown together in their preparations to start flying the fighter aircraft. They experience a fair deal of prejudice and malice at the hands of bitter injured male members of the ATA. The descriptions of the girls being airborne is magnificent and they are all longing to be given the go ahead to fly the majestic spitfires. There is a lot of fun and laughter along the way, but the inevitable sadness of them losing friends, family & colleagues is heartbreaking (I cried).
As I suspected when I wrote about starting this book, I was sad when I got to the end of it. However, to feed any hunger for further snippets about Evie et al, there is a blog Ask Evie, which has lots more information about the exploits of The Spitfire girls.
This is the first book I've read in electronic format, I'm not anti e-readers, I just never thought I could give up real books. It was a perfect intro...moreThis is the first book I've read in electronic format, I'm not anti e-readers, I just never thought I could give up real books. It was a perfect introduction to Kindle format books and is a novel ideally suited to new technology. Larger than life characters, short chapters and a storyline that hooks you in and goes off at a pace.
On a par with all the recent news coverage about the Euro millions winners, Sometimes it Happens bursts into life with the introduction of Doreen Wilkinson, a lottery winner who has in her own words been a scrubber from the East End, now catapulted onto the millionaire's set. Doreen is a character who you instantly warm to. The dialogue is in her own cockney twang, and no amount of money is likely to transform her into an Eliza Dolittle that Professor Higgins could pass off as a Duchess.
She sticks out like a sore thumb in the millionaire playground of Villas Bonitas. She is on holiday with her 17 year old daughter, contemplating her new found fortune, when all kinds of past history start to creep up on her. An old flame appears from nowhere, is he now hunting her down for her new found wealth?
There are many other colourful characters surrounding Doreen in the sunshine paradise. Just as interesting as the other residents in the villas are the staff who keep Villas Bonitas running smoothly. Many secrets start to unravel and the intrigue continues up until the final chapter.
Sometimes it Happens is an ideal summer holiday read, pure escapism, and you can almost feel the heat of the sun as you read it. (less)
You know a book has really touched you when you start telling people you have only just met about it. I found myself doing just this with Can Any Moth...moreYou know a book has really touched you when you start telling people you have only just met about it. I found myself doing just this with Can Any Mother Help Me?
It is a fascinating collection of articles pulled together expertly by Jenna Bailey. In the 1930's a struggling Mum wrote to Nursery World Magazine to ask for help to alleviate her worries and boredom with being a stay at home mother, who couldn't afford a wireless and had no library near by. What evolved from this letter was the birth of a postal co-operative correspondence club. The members would pen various articles on subjects as diverse as childbirth, job satisfaction, illness, affairs and one event that took place in a church, involved an unwanted advance and resulted in said assailant lying in a pool of blood after being hit repeatedly with a stiletto! The articles were sent to the editor who lovingly combined them all into a hand stitched linen cover and the magazine was sent off to the first recipient on the mailing list. They would read, make comment and post to the next person.
What made it all the more intriguing was that all the ladies had pseudonyms to preserve their identities. They did all become lifelong friends and through the second world war many sent their children to live with CCC friends in the country. They met up annually and were a real lifeline for each other at times.
The CCC spanned some 55 years, from it's inception in 1935 to 1990, when many of the original members had died. One of the founder members Elektra lived to be over 100 and met with the author to fill in the gaps to the articles and identities of the contributors. You'll feel that you know these ladies by the end of the book and wish you could have met them.
The book made me think about our modern day equivalent of blogging. Sharing our lives with others and taking comfort in similar experiences and support of like minded peers. I wonder if we'll still be in contact with some of our peers for the next 50 years, or what future medium we'll be using in the future.
I really recommend this book, it was my first book I read on the Kindle, yet another modern day innovation that keeps us reading and accessing information in new ways - a far stretch away from handwritten letters bound in linen covers. (less)
A compelling yet disturbing coming of age story. The 'what ifs' are quite tangible and although you don't want to imagine that the earth could slow an...moreA compelling yet disturbing coming of age story. The 'what ifs' are quite tangible and although you don't want to imagine that the earth could slow and the days and nights gradually get longer and longer, The Age of Miracles takes you to that place.
If I could have given this six stars, I would have.
Maybe it was because I read it in a day, or maybe because it was based on a true story, I know I w...moreIf I could have given this six stars, I would have.
Maybe it was because I read it in a day, or maybe because it was based on a true story, I know I will not forget this book for a long time.
Much WW2 literature is written from the view point of the English during the blitz, the French heading up the Resistence or the Nazi's wreaking evil. I think there is only Alone in Berlin and The Book Thief that I have read, which has given an insight into the dire situation that the ordinary Germans lived through to survive the War.
The loss of their son fighting for Hitler, sets Otto & Anna on a path that once started upon, they cannot stop. It may seem a very trivial or weak way to fight out against the Fuhrer, by leaving postcards with anti-Nazi propoganda written upon them all around Berlin. It is however, an act or mission which they will pay for with their lives if caught.
The other characters who play out alongside Otto & Anna are all brilliantly drawn. Defined by their bravery, evilness, cunning or fecklesness. None of them are superfluous to the story, even old Judge Fromm makes his final appearance worthy of his strange actions at the beginning.
Other factors which made this book amazing for me alongside the fact that it was closely based on a true story, is that it was written in only twenty four days and was first released in 1947. It reads like a modern day thriller and the detail only serves to heighten the suspense and fear you have for the characters. A hefty volume, but definitely worth the investment of your time. (less)
This was recommended to me a while ago on Twitter after saying how much I liked Anne Tyler. A comparison was made with Barbara Trapido and Clare Chamb...moreThis was recommended to me a while ago on Twitter after saying how much I liked Anne Tyler. A comparison was made with Barbara Trapido and Clare Chambers. Two authors I hadn't heard of.
I've had Brother of the More Famous Jack on the TBR pile for a while and thought it was brilliant when I got to it. It's lovely to find a new author you love and know you have all their other novels to indulge in too.
This novel is centred around the eccentric, chaotic, endearing Goldman family. Katherine a young undergraduate of Jacob Goldman is invited to their house for a weekend and is immersed in their whole life. It is a wonderful coming of age story for Katherine. Her first love and subsequent life on the rebound. We meet up with her again ten years later when she once again becomes part of the Goldman clan.
The characters are brilliant, every one of them. It is a wry, witty and at times hilarious book. However, there is also the tragic reality of life's downs as well as the ups. I was bereft when I finished this book, I missed them all. One I will definitely re-read in the future.
Don't read the blurb for this and think it is a whimsy romantic novel, it is so much more.(less)