Monday, 30 January 2012

REVIEW The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter is the story of Hester Prynne who has committed the sin of adultery, in 17th century, Puritan Boston. She becomes pregnant by her lover, and her punishment is to stand before the people of the town in public disgrace and to always wear The Scarlet Letter attached to her chest as a reminder of her shame. She lives a solitary life with her daughter Pearl who is also ostracised from the rest of the community. 

 The intense writing perfectly reflects the subject matter. Hester Prynne, despite being a social outcast is able to live with some degree of freedom, and forge her own life, whereas her lover whom she refused to name is weighed down with the burden of guilt and shame. Shame for the sin he has committed and shame for allowing Hester and his daughter to stand alone.  In the end it is Hester who has to be strong for all three of them, because her lover is so weak and afraid of the consequences of his actions, both within the community and before God.

I have to say I didn't really  enjoy reading this classic. The writing is quite hard to understand at times and you find yourself reading the same passage over and over again. The subject matter is very heavy and  intense, so despite it being a quite a short book it took me a very long time to read. I'm a big fan of classics but this one was not for me.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Teaser Tuesdays

Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays. 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too muchaway! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.

I am currently reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Here is my teaser.

"The moment that he did so, there came what seemed a tumultuous rush of new life, other life than his own, pouring like a torrent into his heart, and hurrying through all his veins, as if the mother and child were communicating their vital warmth to his half-torpid system. The three formed an electric chain."

Monday, 23 January 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey.

Last week I finished Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

I am currently reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Hopefully I will finish this in the next day or so.

I will then be moving on to The Nanny Diaries by Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus, which has been on my TBR pile forever!

If all goes to plan I will at least be able to start The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe by the end of the week.

Happy reading!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling tbr piles and humongous wishlists. In January Mailbox Monday is being hosted by At Home With Books.
This week I have had four new books come into the house.
The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain.
This was a gift from my husband, he bought it at a local supermarket, because he thought I would like it. He was right! 
The following synopsis is taken from

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wifecaptures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. 

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will becomeThe Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for. 

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.


The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain. The second book brought home was from a local charity shop. It was one I have been wanting to read for a while, so I was really pleased to find it at a bargain price! This synopsis was taken from
Dear Anna, 
What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry... 

The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle - her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family - described a woman who embraced life. Yet there was so much they didn't know. With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle's friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives - and the life of a desperate stranger - with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon cake by Aimee Bender The third book brought home was also from a charity shop. This was one I have seen mentioned a lot, but probably wouldn't have bought if I hadn't of stumbled across it at a reasonable price. This synopsis is taken from 

The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse. 

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. 

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern. 

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Sarah's Story by Ruth Elwin Harris.The fourth and final book brought home was also from a charity shop. This was not one I had heard of before but I liked the sound of it from the back cover. Once again the synopsis is from
Originally published in Britain as The Silent Shore
Four independent-minded sisters come of age in the early 1900s - and four interwoven novels tell their stories, each through a different sister's eyes. 
The year is 1910, and the four Purcell sisters have only each other. Their mother has died, leaving them orphans in a rambling country estate. But with the help of the Mackenzies - their guardian and his family, whom the sisters come to love in very different ways - Sarah, Frances, Julia, and Gwen find the courage to follow their own paths in a world that is rapidly changing. 
Avid readers and fans of historical-fiction classics will love these spirited heroines - named "the Little Women of our times" by the TIMES of London - and will be thoroughly absorbed by their intertwining tales, full of feistiness, creativity, and young romance

Friday, 20 January 2012

Books read so far this year.

These are the books I have read so far this year, which count towards my 2012 100 books reading challenge.In 2011 I only managed 32, so this is quite a big jump! So far I'm on track at one book ahead, hopefully I can keep it that way!
  1. Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe by Sandra Gulland.                                                                   Historical fiction in the form of Josephine Bonaparte's diaries. The entries feel really authentic, and really capture the time and place. Very interesting to read as  this is a topic which I am unfamiliar with. The book begins with the marriage of Josephine and Napoleon, and follows their trials and tribulations up to him being made Emperor of France. This is book two of a trilogy.
  2. Impatient with desire by Gabrielle Burton.                                                                                                 Another historical fiction, also presented in diary format. This is the story of Tamsen donner and her family as they travel across America to California. They choose to take a shortcut rather than the established trail. They end up trapped in the mountains through winter. Snowed in and living in a cave, enduring the harshest conditions, Tamsen Donner records her thoughts in a journal and in the form of letters to her sister , which may never reach her. Some of the entries are flashbacks explaining how they got to this point, most are of the moment. I really enjoyed this book I bought it straight away after reading about it on a blog. I'm fascinated by pioneer stories, which I'm sure stems from my childhood and reading Laura Ingalls Wilders books.
  3. The Taker by Alma Katsu                                                                                                                     This was an historical fiction story with a supernatural element. We meet Lanny in present day Maine where she is treated by Dr Luke Findlay. She has been arrested for murder. In order for Luke to help her she tells him her improbable story which begins two hundred years earlier. We follow Lanny and Luke on their journey of escape from the present situation. This is interlinked with Lanny's story of the last two hundred years, and how she came to be what she is now. This is very intriguing and well written, the story sucks you in from the start. There is some violence of a sexual nature which is not for the faint hearted or the younger reader. These bits can easily be skipped if they make you feel uncomfortable. This is the first book in a trilogy. I hope to read the next in the series.
  4. Death Comes to Pemberley. by P.D.James                                                                                                                This is an historical murder mystery set a few years after Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It contains various characters from Pride and Prejudice including Elizabeth and Darcy, and Wickham and Lydia amongst others. The novel begins on the eve of the Darcy's anuual ball, when a murder occurs. I quite enjoyed this, although many reviews are not so favourable. It is the first time I have read a P.D.James novel and it is many years since school when I read Pride and prejudice. Perhaps I didn't come to it with the same high expectations as other readers, especially fans of Austen and James. It was a gentle mystery story, which I did kind of solve, but there was an extra twist at the end.
  5. The Seventh Sister by Z.L Arkadie                                                                                                                   I read this book on kindle via my iphone and laptop. This was a free kindle book from Amazon. This book didn't feel like it was a full length novel. It is a young adult novel, involving high school age children. The main character is Zillael who has some extra physical powers. She starts to experience some unusual things and people turn out not to be who she thought they were including herself.  I can't say too much about this book as its so short it would give to much away. Basically there is some vampire action , a guardian/ protector and the start of a potential love triangle. This sets the scene for the rest of the series.
  6. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood                                                                                                      A dystopian novel set in the future. Snowman/ Jimmy is the only human left after a biological disaster wipes out the human race. The only company he has are the Crakans a genetically engineered race who are very different humans. The novel looks at how Jimmy came to be in this situation through a series of flashbacks, set in a futuristic world, that is not too hard to imagine from our present point in time. I enjoyed this novel once it got going, the first hundred pages were a bit of a struggle but after that I flew through it. It has interesting dual aspects of Jimmy's day to day survival, as well as the flashbacks building up to the point of disaster.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Zoe has read 6 books toward her goal of 100 books.
Books I read in 2011.

Here is a list of the books I read in 2011, with hopefully some links to the books on Goodreads!

  1. Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain
  2. Touching Distance by Rebecca Abrams
  3. Every man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge
  4. Size 12 is not Fat by Meg Cabot
  5. Size 14 is not Fat either by Meg Cabot
  6. The Iron Tree by Cecelia Dart Thornton
  7. The Exile of Sara Stevenson by Darci Hannah
  8. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
  9. The Circle Cast : The Lost Years of Morgan Le Fay by Alex Epstein
  10. Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  11. Bending the Boyne : a novel of ancient Ireland by J.S. Dunn
  12. The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell
  13. The Heartbreaker by Elisabeth McNeill
  14. Roses by Leila Marcham
  15. The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper
  16. Undrawn by Conchie Fernandez
  17. The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
  18. Mr Maybe by Jane Green
  19. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  20. The death and Life of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood
  21. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  22. How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper
  23. The Guilt of Innocents by Candace Robb
  24. Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
  25. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
  26. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  27. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  28. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  29. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
  30. Girl in a Blue dress by Gaynor Arnold
  31. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr
  32. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Hi my name is Zoe, i'm 33 years old and live with my husband in Berkshire, UK.
I've wanted to try blogging for a while now, but as i'm new to this please bear with any mistakes I make. 
I love reading, and would love to try my hand at some  book reviews. So I will be sharing the books I'm reading, how I'm progressing with my 100 book challenge for 2012, and what new books have come into my home.