31 July 2014

The year in books: July

And I think this completes the mad rush to publish all July-specific blog posts. Whilst I haven't finished July's book despite it being the end of July, June's books were done and dusted a wee while ago.

June...

Ghostwritten - David Mitchell (2013)

date finished: 18 July 2014   |   ISBN: 0340739754   |   pages: 436 (Paperback)


From the author of Cloud Atlas, comes a debut novel written as a series of separate narratives, about the link between ten characters in various locations, including a financial lawyer in Hong Kong, a disembodied spirit in Mongolia, a Russian curator planning a heist in St Petersburg and a quantum physicist in Ireland.

I've not read Cloud Atlas — although it has been thoroughly recommended — so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from Mitchell. It took me a little while to adjust to his language style but that isn't unusual for me, especially if I'm coming from something very different. I didn't enjoy reading all of the narratives and I'm not convinced the first narrative was the best one to start with but then, given the nature of that character and the storyline, perhaps I'm not supposed to like it.

My initial rating for the book was two stars, because I felt it came to an abrupt end without many 'answers'. I now think that was quite unfair as I did enjoy reading it, it didn't feel like a chore, so I've re-rated it. But I still finished the book feeling like I was free falling, unsure of what to take away from each of the narratives, how much linkage existed and whether I had missed something glaringly obvious. Perhaps that is my trying to apply my logic and desire for completeness where it doesn't belong. In summary, I was completely mystified and I just haven't decided if that's good or bad.

rating: ★★★☆☆


July...

I was hoping to have another treeware month but alas, all the library books were checked out and Kindle is cheaper. This month is once again my book club book. With this year being the centenary of World War One, we wanted to read something topical, either specifically connected with WWI or in the very least, war related. A book club member recommended a book originally written in German and with a unique take on World War Two; Look Who's Back (Er ist wieder da) by Timur Vermes.
Summer 2011. Berlin. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of ground, alive and well.

Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognise him, though – as a brilliant, satirical impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable, happens, and the ranting Hitler takes off, goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own TV show, becomes someone who people listen to. All while he’s still trying to convince people that yes, it really is him, and yes, he really means it.
A striking cover I'm sure you'll agree.



Also read in June...

Sleep Tight - Rachel Abbott (2014)

date finished: 3 July 2014   |   ISBN: 0957652231   |   pages: 384 (Kindle)


Set in Manchester, Olivia turns to the police when her three young children go missing with their father. Two years later, DCI Tom Douglas is now brought in to investigate Olivia's disappear. In doing so, uncovers the truth about Olivia and her past.

I was expecting this to be an easy read but also fairly average and not overly impactful. It was certainly a quick and easy read and whilst I got a little annoyed with some of the monotony, I actually really rather enjoyed it. Especially all the little twists and turns at the end of the book as all the different threads of the story came together. A crier at books I am not but the end of this book actually gave me a lump in my throat. We'll pretend that had nothing to do with being slightly tipsy. I discovered this is one in a series of books with DCI Douglas as the common element and now want to read the others in this series.

rating: ★★★

What are you reading?

Jen

Want to take part in The Year in Books project?
Visit Laura's July link-up post at The Circle of Pine Trees blog to add yourself to the list and grab the button she's very kindly created. You can take part using the hashtag #theyearinbooks on Instagram and Twitter. There is also a Pinterest board and a Goodreads group. I know; great, right?

30 July 2014

2014.5


Well, it's July (what?! it's still July!) and we're already 211 days through the year. 57%. Strictly speaking 0.6 but let's say halfway (mainly for the purposes of my 'cleverly' constructed post title).

A lot can happen in 5,064 hours. Has it? Yes and no I suppose.

Back in January, rather than a list of goals, I formulated a collection of 'wants'. Let's review.
FRIENDSHIPS. This — making the effort to meet up with distant friends — is certainly still something I need to work on but there's still 154 days, right...?
BLOG. Whether the undulating nature of my blogging will ever change is something I cannot say as this year has so far been similar to previous years. With 37 posts so far, that's an average of about one a week, but there have been bouts of e-silence. Room for improvement? Definitely! The last two months or so I have struggled to find the time really, as well as the inclination sometimes; staring at a computer screen all day at work and not having a proper desk at home until recently have affected my eagerness. But my sparkly new desk, which I now write to you from, should facilitate a reboot and I am expecting good things! On a more positive note, I've started to develop the sewing element of the blog. I'm not sure quite how much it will, or won't, grow but I certainly wanted to share some of it.
CRAFT. This leads on well from above. After 10 weeks of a dressmaking course, I've been steadily developing my sewing skills; homesewn items thus far have included a scarf, dress, skirt, two shorts and four tops. And there's certainly more where that came from! I love it. Other craft has been few and far between but the wifey (new housemate) is particularly crafty and we have a number of plans to craft specific elements of our new home. Watch this space!
READ. To help accomplish this want, I gave myself a target of reading 20 books in 2014 along with taking part in the year in books project organised by Laura at Circle of Pine Trees. With the exception of this month, I have read an average of two books every month so am actually one book ahead of schedule with 12/20. So nurrr! I'm also still very happy to receive book recommendations, so sling 'em my way. 
EXPLORE. This one is difficult to quantify. I've certainly been saying a few more yes's resulting in more trips, festivals, nights out, charity events as well as on the horizon, a group holiday to Italy and attendance at a friend's wedding in Sri Lanka. Albeit not great for the bank balance, it's all certainly very fun!
DECISIONS. BE OPEN. Perhaps linked to the preceding want, this one is also difficult to measure. Of note so far: having some fun with dating, whether it be dating apps, online dating or giving more credence to meeting someone in a drinking establishment,. Results are, thus far, pending.
The only thing that doesn't neatly fit into any of the above is my return to two wheels. Whilst I'm not generally just a fair-weather cyclist (some weather ain't for trifling with), hills are not for my asthma-ridden lungs so the acquisition of a flat cycle route to work, I was straight back on my bike. The only issue is the plethora of people littering the cycling paths. Sigh. But they're still better than hills.

I wonder what the other 154 days are going to bring? Already on the agenda is more travelling, but the rest is tba.

How's your 2014 been so far?

Jen
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Image credit: Svetlana Bilenkina, The Chic Type Blog, Free July Wallpapers.

29 July 2014

July Playlist

Shall we play a little game? Let's see how many July-specific posts we can cram into the last 3 days of July. Yeeeeeah! I just knew you'd be on board. /sarcasm

And during August, I might just make you literally* vomit with my overindulgence in blogging. Keep your diaries clear.

*figuratively

Anyway, featuring 80% 2014 (and new to me) music, I present this month's playlist. Have a ball y'all.




p.s. I'm almost definitely sure no-one actually listens to these but I enjoy the look of them all, just there in the right sidebar. And my perfectionism means I cannot stop until I have a collection of all 12 months. Yay me.

Jen