Tag Archives: Book Ring

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I got Water for Elephants as part of a book ring from the Book Club Forum & it was a book I was really looking forward to reading – I wasn’t disappointed! I flew through this book & it was instrumental in getting me back into the swing of reading again.

Water for Elephants is a retrospective look at the life of Jacob Jancowski. It follows Jacob’s life from early adulthood, where he ends up working for the Benzini Brothers’ travelling circus as the resident veterinarian, tied in with moments of his present lonely life. Water for Elephants was easily the best book I have read this year & is definitely one that I will read again! (A rare thing for me!) I was swept away – caught up in Jacob’s story & the beautiful imagery that this book presents. My only disappointment was that the book ended, though I guess that had to happen eventually, right?

It was a very easy read – I read it in 2 sittings – and I would highly recommend that you make this one of the books you read this year!

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Global Reading Challenge ~ Country #187) The United States of America

The Camel BookmobileThe blurb from the back of the book:

Deep in the heart of the dusty Kenyan desert a train of heavily laden camels wind their way slowly through the bush.

The camels’ panniers are stuffed to bursting, not with grain or medical supplies, but with books of every imaginable variety.

Mididima is a nomadic settlement so tiny that it ia almost invisible. Into this remote world comes an unexpected wealth of literature – tips on surviving an avalanche, the adventures of Tom Sawyer, vegetarian cookbooks: all are eagerly devoured under the blazing Kenyan sun.

Volunteer Fi Sweeney, her heart filled with passion and possibilities, is surprised to discover that the project divides friends and neighbours. To Kanika, who reads every book she can lay her hands on, the Camel Bookmobile brings hope. But to some it represents the inevitable destruction of a fragile way of life…

The Camel Bookmobile came to me as part of a book ring from Chimera from the Book Club Forum & I decided to use it as my selection for the USA, for my Global Reading Challenge. The book is about Fi Sweeney, an American Librarian who has volunteered to go to Kenya to operate the Camel Bookmobile project, which takes books into the far deserted recesses of Kenya, providing a traveling library for people who otherwise would not have the oportunity to read books. The book is also about the tiny community of Mididima: a nomadic community, some of whose citizens can read & were educated in the Distant City, others who were taught to read but are not “book educated” (as in they never atteneded school)& still others who are illiterate and look  upon the Camel Bookmobile as the degrading of their culture.

I have to admit that I was really torn about this book. The Camel Bookmobile does exist & that is what made me so torn. I am an avid reader & really do believe that books are vitally important to a modern society, but the people of Mididima are not a modern culture. They are a culture rich in tradition – tradition which is handed down to them from elders to the young & I have a hard time believing that books like those mentioned in The Camel Bookmobile have any place in a place like Mididima. (Like Snow Sense: Staying Alive in an Avalanche – This IS Kenya, after all.)

At the same time I think that anyone who wants to should be given the opportunity to read as much as they want & as varied a choice of books as they would like. So, I guess the real issue is this: Is it possible to introduce something like books to an ancient society, like that in Mididima without destroying their culture, without upsetting the delicate balance that exists within their society?

In a nutshell, that’s the 2 sides to this book and I guess you will have to read the book to see what happens.

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The Secret Shopper's Revenge ~ by Kate Harrison

the-secret-shoppers-revengeI received The Secret Shopper’s Revenge from Louiseog on the Book Club Forum as a book ring, about a week ago, but as I was in the middle of a book when it arrived it had to wait! I don’t normally read a lot of what seems to be classed as chic-lit (though I am reading far more of it this year than most!) , but this book kind of called out to me to read it when Louiseog offered it as a book ring.

This book is about 3 women who are secret shoppers – or mystery shoppers as we call them in my industry. Grazia the virtually penniless yet glamorous Italian widow who was her artist husband’s muse, Sandie the former store manager who was double crossed by a hateful colleague & Emily the self-professed country bumpkin single mother, who is barely making ends meet. Together the 3 of them make up “Charlie’s shopping angels” & they spend a lot of time together scoping out shops, on secret missions, looking for the good, the bad & the ugly of the retail trade.

I liked the idea of this book – it was fun & easy to read, but I also found bits of it really annoying! I wanted to grab Emily & shake her, I found her character to be somewhat irritating & I somehow don’t really think that was what the author was aiming for! I have to say that one of the things I found really really annoying was that at one point in the book Emily & Sandie are out secret shopping together & the author goes into great detail about the results of one of Emily’s filming’s…………….only to leave you hanging. Why go into so much detail about how that person treated Emily (even “showing” us the video evidence) if you’re not going to tie up that loose end?

The 3 ladies in this book all nicely portray the idea of what can happen when we allow other people to rule over us – to make decisions for us, to put us down, to use our ideas & take the credit,  etc. They are the epitome of that. Through the course of the book you see the ladies grow to accept that there are things that need changing in all of their lives & that they & they alone posses the power needed to make these changes.  Only, have they realised too late the power they individually possess?

I would say that I am glad that I read this book, (thank you Louiseog!) but it isn’t one I could see myself re-reading. I think my little sister would love this book, though & I intend to send  a copy of it to her (as soon as I can afford to,  that is! lol!)

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Emotional Geology ~ by Linda Gillard

emotional-geologyI finished reading Emotional Geology a few minutes ago & I am torn about this book. It is a brilliantly written account of a woman who is wrestling with mental illness & the impact that illness has had/does have on the people around her.

Linda Gillard has a wonderful writing style – very poetic (indeed, part of the book is written as poetry) & she made me feel as though I knew exactly where Rose was – like I could imagine her little fishing shack on the edge of the ocean & it’s doubtlessly beautiful surroundings. A lot of the book is dedicated to Rose’s memories of events long past, always involving the man who haunts her – Gavin, who was a climber. Rose, we learn, suffered from mental illness before Gavin became a part of her life, but it is because of Gavin that Rose has moved to the isolated Hebridean isle of North Uist, to try and live her life the only way she believes she can survive ~ alone. She lives in isolation to escape Gavin’s memory, to escape a past filled with hurt. Through the arrival of Rose’ s daughter we see just how self involved Rose is & learn that all things are not necessarily as they may seem, that maybe Rose doesn’t really have an accurate recollection of certain events in her past, because of her mental illness.

Not long after her arrival on North Uist Rose is drawn, almost prophetically, to Calum, a local school teacher & they embark on several “journeys” together – metaphorical & physical & together they learn that they have far more in common than either of them realised & than is perhaps safe for either of their mental stabilities.

Emotional Geology came to me via a book ring from the Book Club Forum & it took me a lot longer to read this book than it should have done. It was a great book, but I think because of the place I am in right now, with my own bit of emotional geology, I found this very difficult to read. From what I can see from the checking I have done, this book has been marketed as a kind of grown-up chick lit, which really does do this book a dis-service. Yes, it is at it’s heart a love story, but it is also so much more than that! I think this book could speak to a much wider audience & is something that I would recommend for anyone to read – male or female & I believe that Ms. Gillard’s publishing house missed an opportunity when they decided to market this to a mainly female audience.

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Things I want my daughters to know ~ by Elizabeth Noble

things-i-want-my-daughters-to-knowHow would you say goodbye to those you love most in the world?– This question, as asked on the back of the book, is what Barbara must answer as she prepares for her eminent death from cancer. She is leaving behind 4 daughters – Lisa who is a commitment-phobe, Jennifer who is too proud to admit she’s in a bad marriage & too proud to ask for help, Amanda the world traveller who is constantly running away, and Hannah, the baby, not yet 16. Then there’s Mark, the second husband who is 10 years younger than his dying wife & trying to come to grips with what this is doing to his family.

Indeed, how do you say goodbye when you know that the end is near? I think Elizabeth Noble did a fantastic job at proposing a plausible answer to this question. Barbara decides to keep a journal, detailing things she wants her daughters to know after she has died. She also writes letters to each of her children, which they receive on the day of her funeral, along with gifts for the 2 oldest daughters. Jennifer’s gift is her mother’s journal, which she reads, then makes copies of for her sisters. Will the journal help the girls deal with their mother’s death? Will they learn what their mother couldn’t teach them while she was still alive?

I got this book as part of a book ring from the Book Club Forum and to the others in the ring I say “Get ready for a great read!” I expected to be incredibly saddened by this book – in fact others have told me that they were reduced to tears. It didn’t have that affect on me, but I did think that it was a brilliant book! I come from a family of 4 children (3 girls, 1 boy) and I saw so much of my sisters & I in the characters. Happily, my mother is still alive, but there were some definite parallels to our family. I found that because of this, I related to the characters & found myself rooting for them, hoping that they would find their feet after their Mother’s death.

I thought that Things I want my daughters to know was an excellent book & one that I would heartily recommend!

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