The ending of an ending and now Dead again with some Secrets?

I finished the award winning novella, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes a little over a week ago, but really since it was only 150 pages long I finished it over 4-5 sittings and if I wasn’t so busy could easily have devoured it over a lazy afternoon.

Despite its size The Sense of an Ending was quite intricate and thought provoking (as evidenced in recent Notable Quotables) and since I have now dropped down to only 4.5 working hours a week (the ups and downs of being a casual employee :S) I should have ample time to write a appropriately intricate and thought provoking review as well as one for Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins which I finished recently and absolutely adored!

Upon finishing The Sense of an Ending (which happened to be in the middle of the night – luckily on a night when I didn’t have work the next morning) I immediately lay out all the books on my Books-I-Own-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile and started my regular (and at the number of books I have amassed, increasingly long) process, which with the sheer number of books now on the pile I had to do almost three times just to get down to one or two books!

Because of this when I did reach the point of having only two contenders I simply decided I would start both Gosh Darnit!

The two books I started are:

Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries/TrueBlood etc etc Book 9) by Charlaine Harris

and, Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

I’ve been hanging out to read the next Sookie Stackhouse book for a while and I have had Secrets of Eden on my To-Read pile for years now so i’ll be happy to enjoy them both during my lazy, less-work period 🙂

From the end of the Woodpecker to the Beginning of an Ending

Two weeks ago I finished reading Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, a fantastic novel that took me 18 weeks to finish despite it being a mere 277 pages long, mainly because I haven’t been reading on a regular basis due to study and then work. Since I have been plodding through the other three books i’m reading for almost as long or even longer (Blood, Guts and Whiskey for 23 weeks and counting; Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe for 16 weeks; and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen for 14 weeks) I was excited to finally get into something new, but I was also dreading picking one of the thicker books on my To Read pile which with the reading rate i’ve developed lately I would probably still be reading come 2013.

To my surprise and joy the eeny meeny miney moe Gods smiled upon me leading me to the thinnest book of the bunch – a novella which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize – The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – weighing in at a teeny 150 pages. Suffice to say even though I’ve only had two or three reading sessions with The Sense of an Ending I’ve almost finished which should lead to a quick review and then choosing of another (hopefully) thin yet enjoyable book 🙂

At this rate my reading tally for 2012 (the National Year of Reading no less!) which is looking very sad at the moment (only 14 books when my average per year is 30-40 O.O) still has a glimmer of hope – hazah!

From Ashes to Glass; From a Raven to a Woodpecker

This past couple of weeks, when I haven’t been working at my new job at the Mt Lawley campus of my college or working on an assessment (holiday homework is the pits!) I have been able to relax with some reading and as a result I finished two books a couple of days ago – City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare and The Raven’s Heart by Jesse Blackadder.

Both books were very enjoyable and eventful (especially at the tail end) and I will review them soon (i.e. once I have finally posted my belated Top 10 Heroes/Villains and have written a review for The Night Circus ; Code Noir and Raisins and Almonds).

When I finished City of Ashes I immediately knew which book I was going to read next because the Books-Borrowed-Off-My-Bro pile only has three titles on it, and since one of those titles is the next in the series after City of Ashes it was safe to assume that since it shared the same author, virtually the same title and the same publisher details as its two predecessors, it was going to win the eeny meeny miny moe just like the ones before it. Knowing this I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to go through the process anyway, but being a creature of habit I did and sure enough, City of Glass, the third book in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, was the victor.

 

 

The very next day I reached the end of  The Raven’s Heart, a Historical epic set during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots and the process for choosing the next read was not so simple as my Books-I-Own-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile next to my bed is quite perilous. After a tetris-style re-shuffle on my bookshelf I was able to remove some of the books from the pile so the choosing process was a bit better, and as I mentioned a while ago I have the publication details written down in order to make my job a lot easier, so the pile was soon whittled down from 17 to one, the one being Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins.

 

 

I had never heard of Still Life With Woodpecker or Tom Robbins when a friend of the family (and second mum of sorts :)) gifted it to me for my 25th birthday last year, but from what I read on the back cover I was certain it would be a very unique read.

Here’s the blurb so you can all see what I mean:

STILL LIFE WITH WOODPECKER is sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes. it reveals the purpose of the moon, explains the difference between criminals and outlaws, examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism, and paints a portrait of contemporary society that includes powerful Arabs, exiled royalty, and pregnant cheerleaders. it also deals with the problem of redheads.

As you can see, it isn’t any ordinary book but is just the kind of strange, creative and cheekily humourous literature that doesn’t come around too often and which I love. The other night I read the first 9 chapters (they’re of the short and punchy variety, ranging from a page or two to only half of one) and drank it up. The use of language is a feast of carefully constructed lines just begging to be quoted and the storytelling is intriguingly unique, but in my half-asleep state I don’t think I gave it justice so I think I’ll be re-reading the start in the light of day.

Sorry again that I have been so absent. I will try my hardest to get back into the swing of regular posting, especially with reviews and until then:

Happy Reading! 🙂

Classically fitting parcel

The other day I received another parcel in the mail from my bookclub and one that fit in nicely with this month’s Top 10 theme (Top 10 “Classics” and Top 10 Classics I Want to Read, which I hope to finish and post tomorrow).

The parcel contained a 4-book collection of children’s classics: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

Each volume has a beautiful embossed hardcover, is filled with illustrations by Robert Dunn, has a ribbon page marker and a short bio of the author at the back. The stories have been adapted for children by Ronne Randell so they are a bit shorter and less complex than the original, but are still a lovely collection and I can’t wait til I can read them to one of my friends’ children 🙂

In other news I have decided that this month will be Free Pick February, a month in which when I finish a book and choose a new one I will forgo my usual process and pick whichever book I want off the pile! I decided this when the same books I longed to read were being eliminated early on in my eeny meeny miny moe-ing, and while I like my weird habits I wanted to take a bit of a break from them for a while, and February being the shortest month it seemed like the perfect period of time 🙂

I have also made a decision about my back log of reviews. While I want to complete all the old reviews I also want to get back on track with the new ones so they don’t pile up as well, so each month I will do at least one old review and do the new reviews as soon as I finish a book, starting with the next one I finish. Hopefully this will flex my rusty reviewing muscles and the old reviews will be done before I know it 🙂

Happy Reading!

Fiction and Fairy Tales in the mail and a Raven rises from the Grave.

Yesterday I woke up to a lovely sight – a package of books that mum had brought in out of the heat for me and left on the arm of my chair 🙂

I had almost forgotten that I ordered a couple of books from my book club Doubleday when they were having a sale and I could get an added discount thanks to a code I received in an email (I’m a sucker for a bargain!), so I was quite excited to rip open the cardboard and gaze upon my bounty!

The two books I bought were The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, which was the 2011 Man Booker Prize winner and an absolute steal at $17.95 instead of the usual price of $30; and Fairy Tale Rituals by Kenny Klein, a non-fiction book that delves into the magic and mythology behind popular fairy tales and then details rituals based on the tales that work on different aspects of your life. As I may or may not have mentioned before, religiously I define myself as an Eclectic Pagan and mainly take my beliefs from various mythologies as well as herb/flower/animal/stone etc. based beliefs, and since I love traditional fairy tales I was instantly drawn to this book (plus it was only $11.65!).

Then, later in the day while I was hiding from the heat in front of a fan in my room and reading, I finished Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris  and chose a new book from the Books-I-Own-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile which had grown to 19 strong!

This meant a long and involved eeny meeny miny moe session (in which I wrote down the publication details for all the books to make it easier in the future!) and eventually I landed on The Raven’s Heart by Jesse Blackadder, a debut Historical Romance set in Scotland during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. I haven’t read much Historical fiction of late (the last one was Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier and that was one of only a handful last year) and since it is one of my well-loved genres it was nice to delve into the past again, especially as my other reads are on the more fantastical side.

In other news this month is the first time I have posted 10 posts (more now!) in the one month since May! This may be due to the fact that I’m on holidays so I’m reading more, or it could be because of my 2012 National Year of Reading extras, but either way I’m quite pleased that my post numbers have been up when they’ve been lagging a bit over the months.

Stay tuned for the next Top 10 lists (Top 10 “Classics” and Top 10 Classics I Want to Read) at the end of January/beginning of February as well as the final Top 10 theme poll, and hopefully some old reviews so I can get back to regular reviewing 🙂

Happy Reading!

From Blood to Black and a new Book Journal!

This afternoon I *FINALLY* finished the Books of Blood vol. 1-3 by Clive Barker today after reading it sporadically over 34 weeks!

This meant that I could finally choose a new book off the pile that I borrowed off my friend Sarah, which has remained untouched since I read Coldheart Canyon. There were a few on there that I have wanted to read for a while, including another Clive Barker, the Phryne Fisher book I’m up to, a book of short stories, the second Parrish Plessis book (a Sci Fi series by a local author that I began reading last year) and the first book in a series Sarah has raved about (The Parasol Protectorate).

After a fairly quick eeny meeny miny moe I ended up on Code Noir, the second Parrish Plessis book by Marianne De Pierres 🙂

Since I filled up the last couple of pages of my Bibliofile (my reading journal) with the first two reads of the year I have been noting down new books in the back to be transcribed into the new reading journal I bought once it arrived. This has been pretty annoying to me because, as you may have noticed if you’ve been reading Book Polygamist for a while, I like to do things a certain way and I have a ritualistic way of choosing and chronicling my reads. Therefore I was very excited when I went to the letterbox today before heading to the shops and found a package waiting for me!

As I haven’t ordered anything else besides The Book Lover’s Journal I knew what was inside the paper and bubble-wrapped gift, so as soon as I returned from my shopping adventure I ripped it open and started inputting my books into the journal and otherwise perusing its contents.

Its early days still but this may be the best reading journal I’ve used so far. Before the Bibliofile I used a different book called Book Lover’s Journal which I loved because It had the usual fields to fill out (Title, Author, when you read it, your review etc.) but had added ones like Life Experiences While Reading and a Synopsis of the book; it was littered with interesting quotes and book lists; and it was very pretty 🙂 The Bibliofile was different but also really good because it had special pages to document your favourite authors, reading habits, movie adaptations of books etc.

My new Book Lover’s Journal is like a mix of the good points from its predecessors – it has plenty of fields to input data about the books into, from the standard title/author to number of pages, genre, how you discovered or acquired the book and noteworthy experiences while reading, but it goes beyond by having a rating system where you can give a rating from 1-10 on the quality of writing, pace, plot development, characters and more; it has an area for recording books you want to read, as well as an area that keeps track of where you acquire books and ones you have borrowed or lent; and it also has sections for fave authors and other details of reading habits.

But the best bit about this journal is there are 67 book log spots so I won’t be running out of space and writing notes in the back of the book any time soon! 😀

And the winner is!…a Post-It?

So, yesterday afternoon as I was getting off my final bus of the day I finished Adultery by Richard B Wright which I have been reading for a couple of weeks but have really devoured over a few days commuting to and from work (it takes me at least an hour to get from my home in Maylands to Duncraig Library where I have had most of my shifts this year).

It was a good little read, not exactly what I was expecting from the genre sticker on its spine but still insightful and interesting nonetheless, and I will review it as soon as I get through the back log (soon my pretties, soon :D).

As soon as I got home (luckily after more than an hour on buses and trains its only a minute to walk home) I laid out all the books from my Library Pile, which consisted of 3 from the City of Bayswater libraries and 4 from the City of Joondalup, ready to eeny meeny miny moe to a single novel when I remembered that there was still one book waiting for me at Maylands Library – American Gods by Neil Gaiman – that I had requested and meant to pick up but I’ve been so busy it has been neglected.

I didn’t want to leave it out because 1. I still had a couple of days before my request expired and I have some time off work so I would be able to collect it; 2. I really wanted to read it as I have heard great things about the book, I have loved the other works by Neil Gaiman and I borrowed it once before but it had to be returned before I could read it because it was requested at another branch!

To include it in the process without it being in my hot little hands, I found the book on The State Library of Western Australia catalogue and copied all the relevant details (Author, Title, Publisher, Date of Publication, Place of Publication, Number of Pages and last digit of the ISBN) onto a Post-it note and lo and behold at the end of the eeny meeny miny moe-ing the Post-it was the winner!

I plan to pick American Gods up today and I am even more excited to start it because of the unlikely circumstances of it being chosen 🙂

In other news, since I announced my new features to celebrate 2012 as The National Year of Reading I have noted down a couple more quotes and have decided to rename the Weekly Quotable feature so that it is not restricted to being a once a week post and I can post less or more often. From now on the posts will be called Notable Quotables and will be posted whenever I find a quote in one of the books I’m reading that I think is inspirational, insightful, funny or otherwise interesting enough to share with you all 🙂