Saturday, August 28, 2010

American Gods by Neil Gaiman Book of the Month

Beware that there will be spoilers!

1. American Gods is an epic novel dealing with many big themes, including sacrifice, loyalty, betrayal, love and faith. Which theme affected you the most strongly, and why?

2. Shadow begins the novel as a convict, and ends it a different man. How does the novel exploit the idea of America as a place where immigrants and exiles, both physical and emotional, can reinvent themselves? What makes Shadow himself so compelling and complex?

3. American Gods is partly road trip through small-town America, where Shadow can see the darker side of life that other people ignore. What does the novel say about what people will accept in order to maintain a sense of normality?

4. The old gods expect sacrifice, violence and worship? How have the adapted to the modern world? What does this say about the nature of divinity? How and why have Americans transferred their devotion to the new technological and material gods from the old spiritual gods? What comment is being made about modern cultural values?

5. What is the significance of the illusions, cons and magic tricks that occur throughout the novel? American Gods is a novel where magic, myth and the divine coexist with the normal, mundane and human in a way that is utterly believable. How is this illusion maintained?

6. How does the rick background description increase the power of the narrative? What dot he secondary characters, particularly the gods whose lives and deaths we are given a brief insight into, add to the novel?

7. Would you recommend this to anyone? Would you read any other of Neil Gaiman's work? If you would which ones look interesting to you? And if you have which ones would you recommend?

Check out the other Neil Gaiman books Lisa's read here and here and here
questions are taken from my UK edition :0)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult - a book review

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult : June's first husband was killed in a car crash. Against all the odds, her daughter was uninjured and, in another miracle, June found love again with the policeman who rescued them. Six years on they are a happy family, June pregnant with their own child.
But now June's second daughter is dying without the new heart she so urgently needs. And her first daughter, along with her husband, is dead, killed by Shay Bourne, an itinerant workman they welcomed into their home. The crime was so heinous that Shay has been given the death penalty for the first time in 69 years in New Hampshire. Shay is going to die, and he is looking for redemption. He wants to give June's daughter his heart . . .

This was written in true Picoult style. It has all the twists and turns you come to expect from her. This book has had lots of criticism of resembling Stephen Kings The Green Mile. In fact I feel it was very similar, but I also know that she knows that. She has one of the inmates on I-tier call Shay Bourne 'Green Mile' and even has one of the characters say they would rather be curled up with the latest Stephen King novel. Besides the main character basically being the same the stories are very different. Jodi Picoult's is based on the very the touchy topic of religion. Where Green Mile is more about the death sentence and sentencing innocent people. If you liked Green Mile, which I did, I would recommend Change of Heart to you. And vise versa if you liked this then I would recommend The Green Mile, not the movie. Where the movie was entertaining it didn't have the same impact that the book did, there was just something lost in the feeling for the main characters. A topic I could go on and on and on about all day!
As I am a very curious person when it comes to religion I really did like this book. Religion is a very personal thing as I feel it says a lot about the person, but I hate how it's something people can't talk about in an easygoing conversation. It always seems to turn into a childish argument of who is right and who is wrong. If you are a close-minded person when it comes to religion I would stay clear of this book as it's just going to piss you off. I'm sorry if that statement pissed you off. I'm just warning you.
I think this book warrants a read. Maybe not my favorite Picoult novel but it definitely still has me thinking!

Check out our other reviews of Jodi Picoult's books: House Rules, Keeping Faith, The Pact, My Sister's Keeper, The Tenth Circle and Plain Truth.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble a book review

The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble: A New Year. A New Page. A New Reading Group. Five women meet for their first reading group, little realising this social gathering over books and glasses of wine might see them share more than literary debate … and will, in fact, take each of them to places they’d never imagined. Harriet and Nicole are the ringleaders, best friends who can’t quite admit – to themselves or one other – they might be trapped in loveless marriages. While Polly, a determined single mum, finds herself tipped off course by an unexpected proposal. Susan, usually so carefree and happy, is forced to face a shattering reality and Clare, quiet and mysterious, plainly has more on her mind than next week’s book choice. Over the coming year their worlds will intertwine in delightful, unexpected and surprising ways. Stories will be re-written as dreams are made and broken, but through it all they’ll have the Reading Group, with friendship, tears and laughter featuring in every chapter of their lives.    My Thoughts: This was a whole lot better then The Jane Austen Book Club, but still wasn't great. It's an easy chic-lit novel that tugs on heart strings, but nothing that I would go on and on about! Some of the characters were flat and cliche' and others didn't get enough page time. That said I read it pretty quickly so it was definitely entertaining!! My favorite character was Harriet because I felt like she was the only one I related too. Each character had a life lesson to learn and a lot of it had to do with their choices in life and love and of course the consequences. The books they choose each month had little to do with the actual story. The book club was just there in the back ground as a way to connect these women together. Although as I haven't read all the books they read I can't really comment on the impact the books had on the story, it's just from the ones I read it wasn't that obvious. Maybe I just read it too fast. I've made a list of the books they read though as I am interested in a few! Sorry if this post is a bit rambling it's late and I just wanted to get it in as I've already started on a new book!  Would I recommend it? Yes, because although I may not have gotten a whole lot out of it I can see where someone else could. I can see where someone might really relate to one of the women if they happen to have gone or are going through what they are in the story. I really do feel that books effect you differently at different times. Would I give it a second read? Probably not. It is Elizabeth Noble's first novel and is why I chose it. Would I read another one of her novels. Yes I would give another title a go sometime. I actually have one on my amazon wish list: Things I Want My Daughters to Know.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On the Road by Jack Kerouac a book review

On the Road swings to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, jazz, sex, generosity, chill dawns and drugs, with Sal Paradise and his hero Dean Moriarty, traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat. Now recognized as a modern classic, its American Dream is nearer that of Walt Whitman than Scott Fitzgerald, and it goes racing towards the sunset with unforgettable exuberance, poignancy and autobiographical passion.

..........hum?..........I'm not really sure where to start? I'm trying to put into words how this book made me feel and I'm having a hard time pin-pointing it. I read it with the understanding that is seen as an "American Classic" a book that changed lives (according to my back cover). I've actually owned the book for well over a year the first time I tried to read it I found it irritating as I felt it didn't say anything. I'm glad I've given it a second go and finished it because I have found that it says a lot.
A lot about life and how people really haven't changed in 50 years. But then it makes me ask: if people haven't changed than what has? Because something has daughter's new favorite movie is Cars. Sorry that might have been a bit random, but stay with me. In Cars Radiator Springs/Route 66 is left behind to the new shiny highway. Jack Kerouac's America has been left behind. The book made me sad. I think/feel that this was Jack's way of saying goodbye to a certain way of life. When he was traveling (1947) it was right when America was testing the atom bomb, the world was changing.
This book has been very controversial since it was published. Saying it glorifies immoral young men and how it justifies rebellious behavior and drug use. I guess I wouldn't want my kids reading it and treating it as their guide to life, but I wouldn't stop them from reading it. Especially as there are other things to gain such as an insight to another time and the acceptance of all people no matter their station in life and possibly that a simpler life doesn't always mean an unhappy one.  

Did this book change my life? No, but it shows that we're not alone in our ultimate quest to find "it" -- the meaning of life. Would I recommend it? I think it would depend on the person for this one.

Click here to read more about Jack on wikipedia!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We've got about a week or so before we discuss Neil Gaiman's American Gods,
but I haven't put up a post for September's book
any suggestions please leave in the comment area
here on the blog or on our facebook page!
Just look for Pages of the Mind
 and join! ;0)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Starting something new! I'm always trying new things makes life interesting right? Well, we're looking to get this site out there so I purpose an exchange anyone who advertises this blog on their blog with a picture that links on the side we'll do the same for them! The content doesn't have to have anything to do with books, but I will be monitoring it so nothing fishy! If there are enough people interested maybe we'll get an official button! Let me know here in the comment area!

we do not own this picture it is taken from here:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Talking about: FOREIGN FRUIT by Jojo Moyes

Merham is a well-ordered 1950s seaside town: the kind of town in which everyone knows their place (and those who don’t are promptly put in it). Lottie Swift, an evacuee who has grown up with the respectable Holden family, loves Merham, while the Holdens’ daughter Celia chafes against the constraints of the town.
When a group of bohemians takes over Arcadia, a stark Art Deco house on the seafront, the girls are as drawn to its temptations as Merham’s citizens are appalled by them. They set in place a chain of events both within the Holden family and Merham itself which will have longstanding and tragic consequences for all concerned.
Now, almost fifty years on, Arcadia is returning to life, and its inhabitants stirring up strong feelings again. And prompting more than one person to look into their own romantic history and ask: Can you ever leave your past behind?

I am deep down a sucker for a good love story and after reading Jane Austen I have always found most of them, love stories that is fail to make me feel anything. Most love stories feel false to me, I like them to feel real. Ya know? Rattling on again, but my point is that this novel felt real to me. I was completely wrapped up in the characters and their lives. (I wouldn't compare this to Jane Austen I was just using her to make point.)
Foreign Fruit, won the RNA Novel of the Year award for 2003. I can say it was well deserved. I picked this book up for £1 at my local store; I liked it because of the cover. Yes, I do judge books by there cover, I can't help it! I also think it's a stupid saying because if I were to ever write a book I would make sure it had an awesome cover! For the sole purpose of selling it.
Back to the book. I think most people reflect on the choices they have made, good or bad and wonder "what if?" The book mainly follows Lottie's story full of everything that life is made of: love, loss and so on. I like how it shows that love can grow from friendship full of understanding and loyalty and how some are a whirlwind of intense passion. This book has it all. I would say if you, like me, are a sucker for love stories give this one a go!

Cupcakes at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown {book review}

Every month a blog I follow hosts a book club, but the books chosen all have to do with food. Particularly baking. It’s very similar to ...