The Digital Bookclub: January

While the notion of a bookclub might bring to mind a room of old ladies swapping, sharing and telling each other of the latest books they read, and while I don’t consider myself (that) old, the idea becomes more and more appealing as time goes by. I love to read. I loved at school how during “Library” period the librarian would always recommend a handful of books. I usually read by recommendation, which is fine by me.

Yet an actual book club can get difficult to manage and organise. Herein comes Kirst with the idea of a digital bookclub. The concept is simple. At the end of the month review any book(s) you’ve read, and share the love. A list will be compiled that can go around. It’s pretty wonderful.

So here is what I’ve been reading:

khaled_hosseini_a_thousand_splendid_suns1A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

I devoured this book. I’ve been recommended to read this on a number of occasions by many different people, and it’s really not something you should put off reading any longer.

Written by the same author of The Kite Runner, it was incredible. I’m not going to give too much away in this, because you need to read this yourself.The story spans a period of 50 or so years, and centres around the stories of Mariam and Laila, and their growing relationship

Initially we meet Mariam, a young girl of her servant mother and her wealthy father. Because she is born out of wedlock, she cannot live with her father and his other wives and children. This alone brings up many complications in her life, her surroundings and her upbringings. Non-the-less, he visits her every week, and they continue a relationship, much to her mother’s wariness. Tragedy strikes her little world, very quickly leading her into a forced marriage with Rasheed.

Next we meet Laila on the night of her birth. We meet Tariq, and their fun, loving and also tragic friendship. We witness Laila’s horrifying childhood in Kabul. The story goes into the history of the time, war, and ho it affected society. Eventually we learn how these two women, of completely separate ages, lifestyles, and ubringings come together to develop such an interesting and intricate way. You’ll love it.

It’s one of those books where so many outrageous things happen, that if it were anything else, or written any worse, it would seem like badly written fan-fiction. But it’s not, at all. And everything comes together so brilliantly despite so much tragedy and heartache. The story involves love: on so many levels. Father and daughter. Mother and child. Romantic love. Marriages with no love. And the complicated yet so beautiful relationships between Mariam and Laila.

I might be a little late to the party on this one, but I think it’s hit my #1 spot, shared by The Time Traveller’s Wife.

10/10

percy-jackson-and-the-sea-of-monstersPercy Jackson, The Sea of Monstors – Rick Riordan

I’m a big fan of books that get turned into movies, usually it means the book is pretty incredible. I’ll be honest, Greg and I are huge fans of the Percy Jackson movies, so when I saw the box set on sale, I bought it for us. I’ve really always loved Greek Mythology. This is the second book in the series, I read the first a few years ago before the first movie came out and I’m currently reading the 3rd. I definitely think it’s harder to read a book where you know the narrative, though. You lose the “page-turner” element of it.

So, after some Monster drama (including some explosions in the school gym), Percy escapes school with his friend Tyson (who later turns out to be his half brother, and a cyclops). Anyway, terrible things are happening back at Camp Half Blood. Thalia’s tree (Thalia, the daughter of Zeus was turned into a tree years ago, to protect her soul from going to the underworld when she died. This tree now protects the camp) has been poisoned and only the Golden Fleece (which is protected by a giant cyclops) can cure.

Percy then embarks on a quest (even though Clarisse, another camper, is officially on the quest) to the Sea of Monstors, in the Bermuda Triangle to save Grover and capture the Golden Fleece. The cyclops protecting the Fleece has trouble seeing through his eye, and seems to believe Grover is his bride-to-be. It’s a humourous touch.

Along the way they come across some ships, an island spa (where Percy gets turned into a guinea pig, because apparently that what men “really” are), they pass the Siren where Annabeth asks Percy to tie her to the ship so she can hear their song (which tells the listenevr their deepest desires)  and they also find Luke, the bad guy from the last book, who’s trying to destroy Camp Halfblood and the Olympians. Eventually, they capture the Golden Fleece and save Thalia’s tree, and as a result, camp halfblood.

The end was my favourite, just like it was in the movie, but it wasn’t as drama filled. But – the book did offer more insight into the goings-on that the movie did. It was a pretty exciting lead up to the next book, which I’m rather enjoying. I hate to say it, but it just wasn’t as exciting as the movie.

5/10 

It’s been a bit of a mix. I really hope to read a bit faster, more so that I don’t forget what books are about halfway through reading them. I’ve struggled finding books I like recently, I’ve been starting books, not finishing them and putting them on hold. Currently have about 3 of those. I need more time for reading. Hopefully this will help.

tumblr_lpozerHSWf1qm6oc3o1_500

Happy reading, guys.

Have you read anything great recently? I’m always looking for new books.

A dose of Harry for the day.

So in my past life (read: childhood). I was the hugest Harry Potter fan. I may or may not have written about this previously, but I’m not sure I want to dig up blog archives of posts to prove it to you. But I saw this and it made me smile. And I hope that it’ll make anyone who lived through (and with) Harry and the gang, smile too.

1 (1)  e im q6

(Apologies for some of them not coming out. Anyway, source here.)

Some Instagrams recently.

Sunday Picnics


A couple weekends ago, Greg and I had a lazy Sunday afternoon picnic at the Urban/Greenpoint Park, one of our favourite places. We took a blanket (these were LL & GG blankets – our initials – which we gave to our retinues as gifts after our wedding) and played Rummikub which I bought Greg for his birthday. I wish we’d taken a picture on my phone, but we did take one on the Typo disposable I got for my birthday last year.

Next to my bed

These are the books that currently sit next to my bed. The Time Traveller’s wife is officially my #1 book. I’m struggling to get through Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I’m currently switching between it and a book called Hush. I always feel like I’m cheating on a book when I read another at the same time.

Fancy nights at hotels

A couple of Saturday nights ago Greg and I spent the night at Crystal Towers Hotel, one of the fancy African Pride Protea Hotels. Don’t worry, my parents had a free night and they’d been before. It was super fancy. And I took an hour long bath at midnight just because I could.

Go, go Power Rangers!

We found the Power Rangers on our harddrive after Greg’s brother used ours as a backup. We watched the first couple of episodes and I think it was the highlight of my week. Who didnt love the Power Rangers?!

Treat your body

I had an incredible time at The Body Shop’s Media Launch of their new Pulse Store.

Mazal tov Viv & Alon!

THIS is the reason I went to Jhb this past weekend. To celebrate a very special friend’s wedding. The atomsphere was electric filled with the best vibe and dancing, and of course, filled to the brim with tons of love. What an incredible honour to be able to dance and celebrate with such a special couple. My calves are still paying for all that crazy dancing – but my gosh, it was completely worth it (even the 4am wake up the following day.)

Rainy days and rainbows

I was sad to miss the crazy hail in Cape Town, but I was much happier to be at a wedding. After the early wake-up, I was very pleased to be greeted by this rainbow on my way to work.

Wannabe Baking Goddess

Greg’s cousin in England is a terribly talented baker (she’s only 12!). Her parent’s were down for a few days and she sent me a package with some of the coolest (kosher) baking goodies. I mean, there are dinosaur shaped sprinkles. My life is made.

Surprises in the post.

You can’t really call it a surprise, if it’s something you ordered yourself can you? Either way, there is something so terribly exciting about getting a delivery! Even though you get emails to say when your order has been approved, payment has been received and your parcel dispatched – you still don’t know. Placing an order online is like sending a mystery prize to yourself. A gift with love, from me to me. And the subsequent arrival is just so… exciting.

I’ve placed a handful of online orders recently, and the arrival of each has had me terribly excited (overuse of the root of the word “excite” much?). We got a voucher for a photobook for our anniversary from Greg’s mom, it was an overseas company and took a bit longer than expected to arrive. Getting that little slip from the post office was such a relief, and after a little trip to the post office and a long wait in the queue I was absolutely gushing at the result. With photobooks, you know what you’re getting (I mean, you designed it yourself) but it’s something else seeing the real thing! I’m considering writing a post on our little book.

Last week there was loads of discussions of books going around blogs and twitter, and I landed up ordering 2 books I’d been meaning to buy for ages. I got an email from Loot yesterday afternoon to say it had been dispatched and that it should arrived in 2 working days. Lo and behold, this morning my little delivery of happiness arrived at my desk.

Both of these books are meant to be super great, so here is the brief summary off the internet:

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared: It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key…The key belonged to his father, he’s sure of that. But which of New York’s 162 million locks does it open? So begins a quest that takes Oskar – inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective – across New York’s five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further from, his lost father?

Extremely Loud is meant to be incredible and my boss has been trying to get me to watch the movie for like… months. I finally watched the trailer and decided I had to read the book. So here I am with it in my possession. But I really recommend watching the trailer.

Amazing, right?

My last delivery should be coming in a week or so. Our favourite board game of all time Settlers of Catan, was sadly misplaced during our Knysna trip in December. It’s a really incredible strategy game if thats something you’re interested in. But this game costs a bucket-load of money and I was super bleak that we’d lost it. In comes the amazing Exclusive Books sticker system – basically, I placed a sticker on a product I like on their website (product being Settlers) and once it reached 500 stickers it goes on sale! 25% off (for 24hrs)! PLUS Fanatics discounts and we got ourselves a bargain!

Settlers_of_Catan-p2

When this big box arrives, I’m going to be a very happy lady.

Settlers fans will understand this reference :)

Settlers fans will understand this reference 🙂

And now my bank account is asking me very nicely to stop buying things online.

UPDATE: Settlers arrived in the post the very next day after writing this post. It was expected only in a weeks time, so I am crazily impressed with Exclusive Books right now.

The Reading List | My (current) Top 10 Books

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been struggling to put this list together. It’s made me ponder my love and history with books, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to compile this. It hasn’t been difficult because I can’t choose my 10 favourite books of all time, but because I’ve struggled to even think of 10. I looked at my bookshelf and had to look beyond my Harry Potter’s and Hunger Games (don’t worry, no Twilight). Some of these I really read years ago, and came to mind while I was racking my brain for titles. The types of books I read have changed over the years, so the list could be seemingly random.

Recently I’ve found that my favourite “book genre” are books-that-get-made-into-movies. This is what I have named my genre anyway. Not because I watch the movies and decide the book is worth a read, but surely if a book is good enough to get picked up for a movie – it must be really great? It’s how I’ve decided on a lot of books.

top 10 books

Holes – Louis Sachar: This was one of our setwork books in grade 8. It may not be the most adult book, but I loved this story and always will. It tells the story of Stanley Yelnats who is sent to a correctional facility in the middle of the dessert after accused of committing a crime. There, they dig hole. “To build character.” He builds relationships, “character”, and pieces of his personal history unfold so beautifully in connection to

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger: I’ll be honest, but I haven’t even finished reading this. I’m about halfway, and enjoying it so much. It can’t not make this list. Henry time travels, and has been meeting Claire throughout her life as he jumps through time. I’ve been told the ending is incredible.

Just One Look – Harlan Coben: This is the first Harlan Coben book I ever read, and I think it was the best one. If you like crime/thrillers – this is your man. A woman picks up a set of newly developed photographs and sees among them a picture of her husband before she knew him, with someone else. When he sees the photo her husband drives away, and she needs to confront the dark corners of her own tragic past she struggles to learn the truth, find her husband, and save her family. Biggest page turner of my life.

The Help – Kathryn Stocket: You’ve all seen the movie. I read the book ages after the release, and the movie even later. I loved this more I can explain. There isn’t much to tell about this, but if you’ve seen the movie and loved it – read this.

Save Me – Lisa Scottoline: This is one of my most recent reads. A mom has to make a huge decision when an explosion goes off at her daughter’s school while she’s on lunch duty. Does she save her daughter, hiding in the bathroom, or her daughter’s bully standing next to her… her actions causes an uproar in her idyllic suburban community

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold: Another book turned movie. Susie is brutally raped and murdered by a man in her neighbourhood. She watches from heaven as her family and friends’ lives move on, how people come together and drift apart, and how she’s always sort of with them.

Want to Play – PJ Tracey: An online computer game comes out to much applause. Suddenly, the same murders from the game are taking place in real life, and a copy-cat serial killer is on the loose.

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini: This was also a set work book, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I was really nerdy and would try read our set books before term started. The story tells the relationship between Amir and Hassan, who grow up as best friends. Things happen. War happens. And life changes.

The Rabbi’s Daughter – Reva Mann: I don’t really read Jewish books, but I got hold of this one while on my gap year in Israel.  Mann, granddaughter of the head of the Rabbinic Council of Israel and daughter of a highly respected London rabbi, was a wild child. Rebelled and spiralled into the world of sex and drugs by the time she was a teen. It opens your eyes to the world of the ultra-Orthodox.

White Oleander – Janet Fitch: I read this book in Middle School after catching half the movie on TV. I cried (and I don’t cry from books or movies). It is a powerful story of mothers and daughters, their ambiguous alliances, their selfish love and cruel behaviour, and the search for love and identity. Astrid has been raised by her mother, a beautiful, headstrong poet. OK, I took that description off the internet because I couldn’t write it better.

It’s funny, when I started this list this morning I wasn’t too sure I’d be very proud of it. It seemed a bit all over the show. Looking over it now, I really like it. It makes me want to read each of them again, and I wish I had copies of them all. I do apologise for my below average descriptions, I probably should have rather grabbed them off the internet.

All the other lovely ladies have got their book lists out, so I urge you to have a read. I already bought 2 books online yesterday off Tash and Keri’s lists – both I’d been eyeing out for ages and figured “eh. why not.”. So I did. Have a look at Raising Men, Midlands Musings, The Jolly Jammer part 1 and part 2, Clever Bird Banter and Dear Me, I’m sure you’ll find something to your taste on one of these lists. Thank you Keri for starting this, and for getting some awesome girls to share their love of books with one another!

Note, that 6/10 books have been made into movies, and I’ve only seen 2 of them. See what I mean about my favourite book genre 🙂

For the Love of Reading.

Something awesome happened today. Keri, a lovely lady from the Midlands who blogs at midlandsmusings, wrote a blog post on her favourite books. She’s looking for some recommendations for when she goes on honeymoon soon, and tagged a few of us to join in and share our favourites. What I love the most about this – is that it’s sparked an entire morning talking about, reminiscing and recommending books to one another. I’m terrible at choosing books and always go by recommendations, so I particularly love this idea.

It’s really gotten me to think about my long history and love of books and reading. I was an avid reader as a kid and it somehow dwindled as High School workloads took it’s toll, and ultimately university. I remember reading every single Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl book in the school library. My best friend and I used to read, swop and share books, and she got me hooked on Mallory Towers. Anyone remember Jacqueline Wilson? I loved her too, it’s something boys just can’t understand.

I remember when my grandparents would come down from Israel, my Zaida would take me down to Cafda books in Sea Point and buy me anything I wanted (it’s where I got my Mallory Towers books from. I’m still sad about lending my cousin the 1st one and she never gave it back). He bought me Heidi, which I devoured, and subsequently went and read the entire series of books from the library. He even bought me a copy of Jane Eyre, because “its a good book to read”. I never read it, and have no idea where it is. I kind of wish I did. I’m also one of those who’s childhood was filled with Harry Potter. I was at my “peak” at grade 7 when I started Middle School. I covered my pencil case in pictures from the first movie (which had just come out those holidays) and everyone knew I’d read each book too many times to count. My bedroom is another story…

At a point in Middle School my Hebrew teacher was recommending me books (English ones, obviously). That’s when I got started on the crime/thriller/murder mystery books. I read every James Patterson book, and in later years Greg introduced me to Harlan Coben. He was life changing. The twists and turns in the plot that so beautifully come together at the end, it was incredible every time. I don’t read so many of these books anymore though, I got a little bored of them.

My attitude towards reading took a bit of a nosedive in High School, and even more so at university. I didn’t enjoy my setwork books (well, a lot of them anyway) and I found it very difficult at University reading classics and Shakespeare in an English I didn’t recognise. Aside for the fact that reading these books took up more time than I could afford. I eventually dropped English, and started reading more for pleasure.

I’ve been a lot better recently, and it helps that Greg and his family are big readers, always reading, lending and suggesting books. So I’m all on this “Top 10 Books” list. I’m going to have a sit in front of our bookshelf later and think back on the better books I’ve read in my life. I’m hoping to get a list up soon 🙂

Thank you Keri for letting me look back into my love of books.