Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Jane Austen and Romance Reading Challenge 2010

Ooh I'm such a sucker for challenges. I've just stumbled upon 2 more challenges that I simply must join. Lucky for me, these 2 kind of cross-over each other in a way, so I might be able to squeeze these in, on top of the other challenges that I've joined this year.

1) The Jane Austen Challenge

The Jane Austen challenge is hosted by Haley @ the Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object (The Jane Austen Challenge). The challenge is split into 3 levels:

i) NeWbiE: 2 books by J.A. and 2 re-writes / prequels / sequels / spoofs (by other authors)
ii) LoVeR: 4 books by J.A. and 4 re-writes / prequels / sequels / spoofs (by other authors)
iii) FaNatiC: 6+ books by J.A. and 5+ re-writes / prequels / sequels / spoofs (by other authors)

I'm going for the NeWbiE level and my reading list will be:

a) Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
b) Emma by Jane Austen
c) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Spoof
d) Mr Darcy, Vampyre - Spoof

2) Romance Reading Challenge 2010

I'm not a big fan of the steamy Harlequin romance stuff but I do love contemporary and romantic suspense and I've always wanted to read about Romeo and Juliet (I know...can't believe I haven't read Shakespeare's infamous masterpiece yet!)

The rules are pretty simple: Read at least 5 romance type novels from 1st Jan to 31st Dec 2010. You may choose from contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between the two main characters your selection will fit this challenge.

The RRC 2010 challenge is hosted by Naida @ the bookworm (Romance Reading Challenge 2010).

My RRC list so far:
1. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (see review here)
2. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (see review here)
3. Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes (see review here)

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Hollow

Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
First Published: 1946

The last time I read an Agatha Christie book was probably 5 years ago, on my honeymoon. I was on a cruise with my husband from Singapore to Phuket, and I suddenly developed a severe eye infection. I had a swollen eyelid and my eyeball was red and teary. The discomfort was enough to kill any romantic mood I was feeling, so instead of attending the gala dinners and lively shows, my husband and I decided to visit the ship’s library and spend the nights reading on our suite’s balcony. That’s when I picked up my last Agatha Christie book.

I’ve always loved Christie’s novels and my favourite hero is none other than Hercule Poirot – the little Belgian detective with a touch of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). The Hollow is a Poirot book but unlike most of the books under the Poirot Series, this one doesn’t feature Poirot as much as the others do.

The Hollow is an estate located on the outskirts of London, managed and owned by Sir Henry and Lady Lucy Angkatell. As the Angkatells host their weekend family gathering at The Hollow, an unexpected event occurs – a guest is shot dead. Whilst Poirot and the Police struggle to find the killer, they find themselves entangled in a web of family secrets.

As mentioned, there was very little Poirot being featured. A lot of the book was focused on the main suspects, which is a refreshing perspective compared to other Poirot books that tend to circle around the Belgian detective’s thoughts. Here, Christie gives readers a chance to self-evaluate the minds of each character in detail, sort of like a psycho-analysis if you like. The little bit that bugged me though was that I managed to guess who the killer was slightly more than half-way through the book. Nevertheless, the surreptitious but wonky characters and Christie’s writing flair will keep you flipping through the pages at super-fast speed. I'd say not one of the best Christie books around, but still worth a read.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Catcher in the Rye

Author : J.D. Salinger
Genre : Literature
First Published : 1945

Brief: This novel centres around a high-school boy; Holden Caulfield. It is written in first person, as narrated by Caulfield himself.

The first thing that struck me when I read the first few pages of this book was how much it sounded like I was reading a personal blog instead of a much-talked about novel. It wasn’t so much of the writing style (being in first person), but it was more of the profanity and swearing that appeared in almost every page that made me feel like I was just reading some random individual’s journal. I managed to get over the countless “craps” and “Chrissakes” after a while and found a few interesting points worth mentioning.

Holden’s story, as how he views the world, is none at all conclusive. His perspective on things invokes a major question. Was he merely a rebellious teenager or was he a schizophrenic? His thoughts were incoherent, tending to jump from one topic to another, yet he expressed each random thought with clarity. He also appeared to be unusually irrational at times, like the time he wouldn’t stop asking cab drivers where the ducks disappeared to in winter. There were also some incidences in the story suggesting that Caulfield was delusional. It’s quite obvious that he’s a cynic who hated almost everything and everyone. On the other hand, he was also shown to be extremely sincere and protective when it came to kids or women. Personally, Caulfield to me looked like he was on the onset of having a mental illness. Rebellious teenagers are usually attention seekers, something Caulfield wasn’t really fond of.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this was a great book. There was no high point in the story, though it does have some interesting moments, and it definitely leaves you with some food for thought.

J.D. Salinger has passed away on the 27th of January 2010 at the age of 91. Salinger died of natural causes at his home. He had lived for decades in self-imposed isolation in a small, remote house in Cornish, N.H. (Associated Press).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Thriller & Suspense Challenge 2010

I'm pretty excited to be joining this particular challenge. For one, I've always been a mystery-book lover, but have found little time for it lately, and secondly, this would be my first 2010 reading challenge.

The rules are pretty simple and the key points are copied below:

  1. Timeline is between 1st Jan 2010 and 31 Dec 2010. Joining is anytime during the year.
  2. To read a total of 12 thrillers during the time period.
  3. You don't have to select your books ahead of time and crossovers into other challenges are allowed.
If mind-boggling whodunit and suspense is right up your alley, then feel free to join here.

My Thriller & Suspense List
  1. The Hollow by Agatha Christie
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  3. Berried Alive by Kate Kingsbury
  4. Random by Craig Robertson
  5. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
  6. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
p/s: This lovely challenge is brought to you by Book Chick City.


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