45 books to London

My challenge is to read all 45 books on my bookshelf before I hopefully move to London in January. Challenge accepted!

The King's Speech

The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy - 'Mark Logue',  'Peter Conradi'

This will probably be a short post, because I read this book, what seems to me, like ages ago (I actually only finished it a week ago, but it's the summer, so everything seems far away now).


What suprised me about this book, is that it was so so different from the movie. Different is good, but it basically shouldn't be called by the same name. The movie was about the lead up to the speech about the war, but the book was about the whole lives of Lionel Logue & King Albert. Truthfully, I actually preferred the book. I love hearing about the back stories behind people & lives, & about why things are the way they are. I also really liked that the book had real examples about Albert & Lionels friends, because really, who doesn't like the royals being made to seem like real people?


I did get confused with some of the names & relationships of people (particularly in the royal family), but that is probably a generational thing. My mum (who read the book before me, & is a big royalist) probably didn't confused about it.


Overall, I really liked this book. It wasn't thrilling, but it was a small book, so no big deal to read & enjoy. I would recommend this book to other people.



Sisters - Danielle Steel

I love love loved this book! Danielle Steel has once again impressed me.


From the synopsis, I thought that the four sisters didn't get along (they led such different lives) so I was pleased to find out that they did get along. It was such a nice change because in a lot of books about family (especially big families) there are dramas & fights. There were no dramas at all in this book between the sisters, & it was so nice to read.


I was suprised that the sisters didn't kick up more of a stink about their father remarrying so quickly (& to somebody so young!). If it was my father, my sister & I would have caused merry hell for him. I thought that was a bigger plot line than it made out to be, & was kind of left hanging at the end. The sisters seemed content about their father having a baby with a new wife so quickly.


I liked all of the sisters aswell. There wasn't one sister that I thought "Christ she's annoying", or one that I preffered over the others, which is unusual I think. Usually there's one character you identify with, & at least one character that you don't like, so this was another nice change about the book. Each sister was very different to the others, but each had their own lives & sacrificies they made to help Annie, & each happily did it. I'm not sure how realistic that is to real life, I'm not sure, but it was really nice reading it.


I did get a bit annoyed that the book kept flicking between perspectives. The first bit was first person, for each of the sisters as we got to know them. Then it was from Sabrinas perspective for a bit, & occassionally Tammys, then the last half of the book was third person. It was frustrating.


Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Danielle Steel has not yet failed me.

PS- I love you

PS, I Love You By Cecelia Ahern - -Author-

I was worried that this book might be a bit too sad for me to read (with my dad & his cancer. Seriously, why do I keep doing this to myself?!) but I was okay with it all. The story starts just after Gerry dies, so we never get to hear his story. There are two flash backs of his memory, but they are both when he is sick, not when he was healthy.


I really wanted to like Holly, but I couldn't. She was a nice person, but I think she handled the death really badly, & didn't move on. She seems to have lived her whole life through Gerry (both when he was alive, & when he was dead), which isn't healthy I don't think. I think that's probably because I am so independant, & I don't have any friends like that, so I just don't understand people like that. Anyway, because of that I found Holly irritating.


I also thought that Holly should have had more friends (she only had two), which sounds mean, but there was no reason for her not to have more friends. The book makes reference to the fact that most of the friends were Gerrys friends, but it makes me wonder why only two have stuck around for Holly. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on her, but these are my thoughts.


One thing I did like about Holly was her sense of music. There a few references to Westlife in the book, who are my favourite band. Tragic, I know. The author's (Cecelia Ahern) sister is married to Nicky from Westlife, so that will be reason for the references. Anywho, I liked it.


I've never seen the movie of this book, & for that I am grateful. Like many readers, I prefer to read the book before watching the movie, although for me this rarely happens.


Overall, despite disliking Holly, I would recommend this book to others.


PS- I just googled Cecelia Ahern & found that she also produced the TV show Samantha Who?. I loved that show!

The Wedding Night

Wedding Night - Sophie Kinsella

As suspected, I loved this book! I read it in about 12 hours, & yes, Sophie Kinsella, you are still yet to fail me.


I thought that Lottie was the same as the other Sophie Kinsella main characters (damsel in distress types), but at least you know what you're getting with her.


This book really was a nice easy read. Nothing too hard or taxing, just reading about an island escape & failed relationships. Easy.


I liked how at the end everybody had a happy ending. Even Lotties control-freak sister (who I actually quite liked).


There's not much to say really. Good book, good characters, good story. Nothing to complain about.


I would definately recommend this book to others.

Sophie's Journey

Sophie's Journey - Sally Collings

Wow, this book was nothing short of amazing. Sophie & her family seem like such amazing people.


I really liked this book, especially towards the end, but the format wasn't as I expected. I expected it to be a novel, but instead it was laid out kind of like interviews with various people who are part of Sophie's 'story'.


I would have liked to have a section by Sophie's brother Mitchell, & how it effected him, but I can understand why there wasn't. Sophie & Mitchells parents have made it pretty clear that they don't want Mitchells life to be defined by something that happened to his sister, so he has been kept out of it. Understandable I suppose, because that is how resentment happens. But it still would have been nice to get his perspective on things.


I think Sophies parents (Ron & Carolyn) were amazing in how they dealt with it all. They seem really amazing, & that in turn is how Sophie has dealt with it all so well.


Sophie's story really is amazing. A little girl with TWO horrific accidents before she's six years old. How awful, yet inspiring. She seems like she has really touched a lot of people.


Overall, I would recommend this book to other people without a doubt. It was really heart warming & makes you not want to take life for granted.

This way to Spaceship

This Way To Spaceship - Rhys Darby

First up, I'd like to say that I'm one of Rhy Darby's biggest fans. I love Flight of the Concords & Love Birds (& Yes Man, but who doesn't love that movie?) so I was super excited to hear last year that Rhys was releasing a book & talking at the Auckland Writers Festive. Sign me up, I thought!

So along I went, & happily paid full price for the book (a rare occurance, if there ever is one) & went to hear Rhys talk about the book. It was amazing. He was so funny & smart, & well dressed. After the show he did signings, so I got my book signed, but I was too scared to get a photo with him. Sad face. Needless to say, this book will be coming to London with me.


So, onwards. I thought this book was hilarious, especially the first half. I really liked hearing about his upbringing & thoughts on life, but the second half of the book was a bit weird. The second half was about the spaceship & hypothetical secret missions, which I got confused about. It was almost like his editor said "Okay Rhys, what you've written is great, but more about the world ending, mmmmk?". I'm sure loads of people liked the second part (because honestly, it's more of what the book probably should have been), & it was still quite funny, but not for me.


I also liked that Rhys was honest about how broke he was & having to crawl back to London after filming Flight of the Concords. It was very raw, although I knew he struggled from hearing other things he'd said.


So, I would recommend this book to others without a doubt. It was laugh out loud funny in some parts, & certainly amusing throughout the whole thing. Hurrah!

Sheer madness: sex, lies and politics

Sheer Madness:  Sex, Lies And Politics - Jan Murray

I'm not sure what possessed me to buy this book (probably because it was cheap), but if it wasn't in my box of books to read (I no longer have a book shelf) I probably wouldn't have read it.


It was an okay book, but I'd never heard of the author (Jan Murray) before last week, & I don't know anything about Australian politics, so it was a bit confusing to me.


I liked that Jan was very honest in the book & was open about her private life, but that's probably the best part of it.


Honestly, Jan seems like quite hard work, with her mood swings & her family life growing up.


So overall, not much to say about this book. It came, it happened, & will be promptly forgotten about.

Things I want my daughters to know

Things I Want My Daughters to Know : A Novel - Elizabeth Noble

I really liked this book. I was a bit wary about reading it, because my dad has incurable cancer, & sometimes I get a bit upset about (but mostly I'm okay with it. As okay as you can be, anyway).


Barbara (the mother) seems really like a really nice woman, & it's nice that the family didn't pretend to be normal. Mark (the stepfather) treated Lisa, Jennifer & Amanda as his own, even though they weren't, which was really nice. I actually think that all the relationships with various family members were nice. Not forced at all like most families.


I also thought that it was nice how each sister was very different from the others, but they were all non-judgemental, & accepted each other as they are. I think that must be very rare for families so big (I think 4 children is quite big for families nowdays).


Although this book was sad, it was in very small parts. The majority of this book was at times funny, but mostly just a good solid read about moving on after death. An eye opener I think.


I would definately recommend this book to others.

Life with my sister Madonna

Life with My Sister Madonna By Christopher Ciccone, Wendy Leigh - -Author-

Much to my suprise, I really liked this book. I thought that it would be a bit beyond me, because the peak of Madonnas career was before my time, but I understood it & recognised the people.


I don't think that Christopher is a natural writer, but it was still a good story, & a solid effort. I feel sad for him, because Madonna was quite obviously taking advantage of him for all those years. I think it got to the point where she was so famous that she knew she could get away with it.


I noticed that quite a lot in the book the wrong tense are being used. Christopher will quite often flick between past & present tense. I'm suprised that his editor didn't pick up on it, because it is one of the first things I was taught at Creative Writing.


Madonna does seem like a selfish woman in this book, & I'm not sure how Christopher thought that publishing it would help his relationship with her. He obviously wants to repair the rift, but Madonna will (understandably) not trust him anymore & be annoyed about him airing his grievances in public.


Overall, a really interesting book that I would recommend to Madonna fans.

November recap

November has been a hectic month for me.


First up, I quit my job! I finish work on the 20th December, & will be staying at my parents house from 21st December until I leave Auckland on the 21st January.


I am going travelling around South East Asia for two weeks before arriving in London on the 3rd February. This month I also had to move house. It was very rushed, with only three days notice (we were supposed to be moving in a few weeks time, but circumstances changed), so I'm now staying at my friends house during the week, & my parents house on the weekend. I think I'm going to be very sick of living out of a suitcase by the time February comes!


This month I read:


So that's six new books read, except four were library books so don't count towards my 45 books total. So I've read 16 books towards my challenge, except I can't work out what that percentage is. About 33-35% I think.


Hope you all have a great December!


Stars (Mills & Boon Special Releases) - Nora Roberts

I've read a few Nora Roberts books, & usually like it, but this time I didn't particularly.


In the first book (Hidden Star) Bailey wakes up one day with amnesia & decides to go to a private investigator (Cade Parris). First up, I think this is completely unrealistic. Most people would go to the hospital or police first, not open a phone book & find a PI. Secondly, I think any good PI would insist their new client goes to hospital, not proceed to fall in love with the client, & then pressure the client to feel the same. I can't be sure because I've never had amnesia, but I don't think that's how things would play out for me.


I felt like Bailey wasn't particularly focused on the task of "finding out who I am", & more focused on (at the beginning) deflecting Cade's advances. I liked Cade & Bailey as characters, but I felt they had misguided attentions.


I much preferred the second book (Captive Star) because the characters had a goal, & they went for it, & only occassionally got distracter. I quite liked the characters of MJ & Jack (although I didn't particularly like the names) & thought they were both gutsy, yet hot-headed (especially MJ. She needs to learn to listen to instructions.) Again, I think it's unrealistic that they would fall in love given the situation, but they did.


Overall, an okay book. I won't read it again, but my mum is keen to read it so it can't be all bad.

A Street Cat Named Bob

A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life - James   Bowen

This book was a really sweet, easy read. It is about a man who is a recovering drug addict, who takes in a street cat & about the various challenges they face, as well as stories about their bond as it gets stronger.


I'm typing this as my ginger cat (called Orlando) sits on the laptop charger (nice & warm) so I totally get where James (the author/Bobs human) comes from. My cat was a street cat, & whilst it was a very different situation (i.e.- I'm not a recovering drug addict & have never been homeless) Orlando is like my child & some mornings needing to feed him & keep a roof over his head is the reason I go to work.


I loved this story. I liked hearing about things that are different to anything I've heard about before. It talked about the nitty-gritty of going off methadone & breaking contact with family, the lonliness, & then getting it back on track. It has also made me think twice about ignoring The Big Issue guys next time I see them (we don't have them in Auckland, but I've seen them a few time in London).


This book did have a few grammar errors that is noticed (commas in the wrong place, using words that aren't words, like disorganised instead of unorganised). Usually this kind of thing bugs me, but I found it endearing this time.


I would really like to know more about how Bob & James are getting on, but no doubt that will be easily found on the internet. The book said that Bob had a twitter page that is @streetcatbob. I would definately recommend this book to others, it is so sweet.


Oh, & not that it matters but I didn't like the name Bob for the cat. So in my head I've called him Humphrey. I don't know why, but I also called Lisbeth Salander (from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) Elizabeth, & probably a few others that I can't think of right now. Oh, & yes, Google turns up a lot of stuff on Bob & James. Win.



Puppy Love

Puppy Love: A Novel - Frauke Scheunemann, Shelley Frisch

I picked this book up because the cover was so cute (again with that judging a book by it's cover habit of mine!) & it didn't disappoint.


This was a really cute read, but it had a very simple language, so it was frustrating to read at times. There are two reasons why the writing was so simple (in my opinion). One is that it is written from a dogs perspective, so obviously the language is basic. The second reason is that the book has been translated from another language (German I think. There was one reference to Hamburg). Hercules was such a funny dog, & I loved his friendship with Beck. It was so cute. 


There were a few things that confused me about Hercules though. There were things like when he went to beach for the first time, & he didn't know what the waves were, but knew what sand was. He knew what kissing was, but didn't know how to pick up on basic human emotions. Basically, I thought that the character of Hercules was inconsistent in how he was portrayed. 


I also thought that the characters weren't very well portrayed. They were all nice enough, but they didn't have much substance. I also thought that the ending was a bit... dense. It came very quickly, & without any lead up. I'm also not convinced that the person Caroline ends up with the right man.


Overall, I thought this was a nice, sweet story, but it could have done with a bit more substance.

Signs of Life

Signs of Life: A Memoir - Natalie Taylor

Holy cow this book was good. I only picked it up because the cover was pretty (now that I judge a book by it's cover or anything...) but I was really impressed by it. 


I didn't expect great things from the book because it was a diary rather than a novel, but I think that worked better (although there weren't any dates on the diary entries which annoyed me) as they were raw emotions rather than flashbacks. 


I think Natalie handled the whole situation (new mother & widow) really well, especially once she had a goal in place. Her family seems amazing, so I'm sure that helped.


One thing that annoyed me a bit was all the names. I got confused by so many names, & not much of an explanation as to who each person was (which is fair enough, I'm reading this womans diary). 


I really loved this book, & I would totally recommend it to others. It's crazy to think that Natalie was younger than I am now when her husband died. I can't get over that.

The Writing Class

The Writing Class - Stephanie Johnson

I read this book because my bosses wife read it & loved it, so I expected to as well.... but I didn't.


For me their were only two sub-stories (although there were supposed to be three I think), but neither of them really took off. I'm also not sure whether the stories were supposed to be first or third person, because they kept awkwardly flipping. 


The relationships between all the characters also seemed very awkward. Nobody was friends, but they pretended to be friends whilst silently wanting to leave the situation. What kind of way is that to live life? 


I also thought that the book was too descriptive. For some (most?) people that won't be an issue, but I get bored with the wordy-ness. An example of this is "The authorial voice could break in at this point and urge caution, but not so strongly that the lover loses his stride. While the bodies writhe and thrust in the striated light, he might even indulge in a little meditation on the writing of sex and how to go about it. Prehaps he would muse that more than any other human activity sex may be as erotic as it can be numbing, as amusing as it is tragic, as breeding of loathing as it is of love. He would debate whether his attention should alight on that quivering droplet or that gleaming gland, or whether the author should leave the room altogether" (page 108). For me, reading words sentences like that was too much, too often. 


I didn't think this book was a total write off & would recommend it to certain people (I'm lending the book to my mum this weekend), but I won't be reading it again.

October Recap

October has been an exciting month for me. First up- I booked my tickets to London! I leave New Zealand on the 21st January, & spend two weeks in South East Asia before arriving in London on the 3rd February. I'm really excited!


This month I read six more books, bringing my total to 14 books (32% complete). Although I mentioned my challenge to dad on the weekend & he told me not to take it so seriously, so as a "treat" I borrowed 3 books from the library. Small thrills, huh?


October was also a relevation for me, in that I realised that what I'm writing really has no substance. I'm not even writing reviews properly. I know that this page is only for me & my musings, but that doesn't mean that the standards need to be low. So from now, I'm going to try write better reviews about books I read. & maybe expand from just writing reviews (although I'll probably be shit at that, because I hardly ever use my laptop, except for this website).


In October I read: 


See you next month, folks.

Currently reading

The Gun Seller
Hugh Laurie