27 Feb 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Pick a Theme Song To!

Okay let me be honest. This post was written weeks ago because I stumbled over this fabulous theme on The Broke and The Bookish and couldn't wait to start thinking about it and putting together a great list. So what are the top ten books that you would pick a theme song to? And what song?
Here are mine:

10) "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk / "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters 
A book with a punch, my chosen theme song would be "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters. If any of you do Les Mills BodyCombat at your local gym, then you will know exactly what I mean. This is one hard-hitting track :-) 

9) "The Privileges" by Jonathan Dee / "Inside and Out" by Feist
For some reason I can just imagine the two main characters dancing to "Inside and Out" at their wedding (in the first chapter of the book so no spoiler), even though it doesn't really fit in with the timeline. But it captures that intense love and happiness that they both feel. 

8) "The Heart-Shaped Box" by Joe Hill / "Cut Here" by The Cure
So maybe Jude Coyne would feel better about something a little bit more hardcore, a little tougher. But when it comes to punkish rock with a strong aftertaste of melancholy and loss mixed with a bit of black eyeliner, there is no one quite like The Cure. They are the masters of this time up music. So for Jude's and Georgia's haunted roadtrip, this is the perfect soundtrack. 

Let me just share a little part of the lyrics with you (from lyricsbox.com):
"So we meet again!" and I offer my hand
All dry and English slow
And you look at me and I understand
Yeah it's a look I used to know
"Three long years and your favourite man
Is that any way to say hello?"
And you hold me
Like you'll never let me go

7) "Love Falls" by Esther Freud / "White Nights" by Ohland
This YA fiction takes place during a sunny summer in Tuscany and the dreamy tunes of Ohland perfectly sums up the never-ending feeling of a warm summer night. You can almost see the fireflies in the night darkness and smell the sun on the warm grass and the jasmine flowers. 

6) "Forbidden" by Tabitha Suzuma / "Undisclosed Desires" by Muse
The melancholy tune goes perfectly with "Forbidden". I am sure that Maya would love this song, I know that I do.

5) "The City & The City" by China Miéville / "Rullett" by Kaizers Orchestra
Right this song is actually in Norwegian but if you don't speak Norwegian, I think it could probably go for Besz with a bit of imagination. The song has just the right note of Balkan rock and gloomy beauty to set off this urban fantasy.

4) "New Moon" by Stephenie Meyer / "The Balcony" by The Rumour Said Fire
For me this track reminded me so much of "New Moon" that I was actually surprised that it was not in the official soundtrack. It is the perfect soundtrack for the big forest on the Olympic Peninsula. If you liked the original "New Moon" soundtrack (even if you didn't like the book), then please please give this track a try. It is one of the most amazing indie-country-rock tunes. 

3) "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith / "Just One of Those Things" performed by Frank Sinatra
The perfect song for vintage teenage story about being in love for the first time and about watching others being in love. "Just One of Those Things" is such a beautiful song - and for a more modern but still beautiful version try the one performed by Bryan Ferry. 

A little taster of the lyrics (straight from my memory):
It was just one of those things
Just one of those crazy flings
One of those bells that now and then rings
Just one of those things

2) "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins / "Just So" by Agnes Obel
This song has a silence before the storm creeping feeling that fits perfectly with "The Hunger Games". For me it belongs in the parts of the books where Katniss is reflecting on her choices, on having to give up her own life to save her sister.

A little taster of the lyrics (thanks to sweetslyrics.com)
Today is gonna be the day, you hear somebody say,
We need you wide awake
You hear the moments kick and play.
The order of the day
is hollering your way

Drink a toast to the sun
To the things that never come,
To the break of the day
That is all that I say

1) "Tender is the Night" by F. Scott Fitzgerald / "Let's Misbehave" performed by Irving Aaronson
A beautiful book and somehow I think it goes quite well with the Cole Porter song "Let's Misbehave". It is a song that never fails to make me think of 1930's Europe, champagne and rivieras. For a newer version try the one from the soundtrack of the movie "Easy Virtue. 

So which songs have made your list? Have you featured any of the same tracks or books? 

25 Feb 2012

A Little Shopping...

Yesterday I gave myself a little present. Three little presents actually:

"Untold Story" by Monica Ali
From amazon.com: "When Princess Diana died in Paris’s Alma tunnel, she was thirty-seven years old. Had she lived, she would turn fifty on July 1, 2011. Who would the beloved icon be if she were alive today? What would she be doing? And where? One of the most versatile and bold writers of our time, Monica Ali has imagined a different fate for Diana in her spectacular new novel, Untold Story."

"Palladio" by Jonathan Dee
From amazon.com: "In her small upstate New York town, Molly Howe is admired for her beauty, poise, and character, until one day a secret is exposed and she is cruelly ostracized. She escapes to Berkeley, where she finds solace in a young art student named John Wheelwright. They embark on an intense, all-consuming affair, until the day Molly disappears–again. A decade later, John is lured by the eccentric advertising visionary Mal Osbourne into a risky venture that threatens to eviscerate every concept, slogan, and gimmick exported by Madison Avenue. And much to John’s amazement, one of the many swept into Osbourne’s creative vortex is the woman who left him devastated so many years before."

"Kraken" by China Miéville
From amazon.com: "Deep in the research wing of the Natural History Museum is a prize specimen, something that comes along much less often than once in a lifetime: a perfect, and perfectly preserved, giant squid. But what does it mean when the creature suddenly and impossibly disappears? For curator Billy Harrow it's the start of a headlong pitch into a London of warring cults, surreal magic, apostates and assassins. It might just be that the creature he's been preserving is more than a biological rarity: there are those who are sure it's a god. A god that someone is hoping will end the world."

Now all I have to do is wait for them to land in my parents' mailbox. Our own is exceptionally unreliable - or rather the mail people are, they don't bother to actually put stuff in the mailbox but just leave it lying around the building which at the moment is full of builders... So have lost a few things on that account.  
So to avoid that this stuff will be sent to mum and dad where it will be waiting for me to pick it up! Can't wait to read these :-) 

22 Feb 2012

Top Ten Best Books of 2011

The other I realised that I haven't done a top ten list of my favourite books of 2011. Shame on me. So without further ado I will dive straight into it. 

10) "The Collector" by John Fowles
In the review I wrote: "It is a fascinating read because both Miranda and Frederick call for pity even though both of them are really quite annoying and caught up in their own webs of self-deceit."

9) "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz
In the review I wrote: "What really caught me about this book was not the style or the story as much as Oscar himself. At some points, especially during his college years, I was moved to tears because he is such a sweet boy. Such a good man and so lonely, so misunderstood and so sad. I wanted to put my arms around him and tell him that everything was going to be okay. That, for me, is the must impressive part of the book."

8) "My Last Duchess" by Daisy Goodwin
In the review I wrote: "This is a lovely book, it is a great escape into a different time and as a romance it works really well without becoming too much." 

7) "The Heart-Shaped Box" by Joe Hill
In the review I wrote: "It is a bit of gem really, different from any other book I have read - the only book that it reminds me of is "Horns", also by Joe Hill, but I liked "Heart-Shaped Box" better, mostly because of the characters."

6) "The Last Samurai" by Helen DeWitt
In the review I wrote: "I loved the plot and the two characters. The hapless Sibylla who can hardly take care of herself not to mention a small wonder boy and who values books over anything else including food, is endearing! And Ludo, the clever little fellow who really really wants a father figure to look up to, is cute. The isolation that his intellect leads to is difficult to read about even though he doesn't completely understands it himself and his hunt for a dad is an emotional journey both for Ludo and for the reader."

5) "Forbidden" by Tabitha Suzuma
In the review I wrote: "By the end of this book I was ready to adopt the lot of them. They were so real to me and I felt so horrible for them, I was so sad when the book was over, I just wanted more. Which is why I am very happy that Tabitha Suzuma has written several other books that I will definitely be reading soon!"

4) "London Fields" by Martin Amis
In the review I wrote: "Capturing all of the details in this amazing book is impossible in a blog post. I had a hard time keeping track of it all as I was reading it but that was actually part of the attraction. It made me lose myself because I had to concentrate to follow the action and though none of the main characters are really likeable, they are all intriguing!"

3) "The Pregnant Widow" by Martin Amis
Didn't realise there were going to be two Martin Amis novels on this list. Really enjoyed both books though and they deserve their places here!
In the review I wrote: "It is a fantastic book if you ask me - I read it and loved it and some day I will read this in Italy on a warm summers day and it will feel like I am almost there with Keith as he faces the difficulties of youth and the conundrums of women. "

2) "A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness
This one was so good that I couldn't actually figure out how to review it... So instead I wrote a Ten Things I Love About... instead. And here one of the things I loved about it:
"The fact this this is the first in a trilogy! I was so worried that this was a stand alone because I want more! Luckily Harkness is already working on the sequel "Shadow of Night" and though I don't like that title as much as I loved "A Discovery of Witches", I am still really looking forwrad to getting my hands on it."

1) "Purge" by Sofi Oksanen
The best book of the year, no doubt. 
This is what I wrote in the review:
"The strengths of "Purge" are many. It is not sugarcoated, everything is exposed, all human flaws are there in plain view and even the main characters that as a reader, I sympathized with, are full of flaws. Another strength is the historical aspect. As a historical story, it works really well because it envokes an Estonia of the past (luckily) that is so different from modern-day Estonia, yet gives you a better chance of understanding Estonia and the other countries that suffered during the dark days of communism and Stalin. It is truly a scary read on so many levels, from the explicit violence and the vulnerability of the women in this story to the political environment and the men that will do anything for money, power, status or a casino."

19 Feb 2012

Review: "The City & The City" by China Miéville

China Miéville must be one of the coolest names ever! I came across his book "Kraken" in a book shop and the author's name alone was enough to have me curious: I had to read something by the author with the fascinating name. In the end I went for "The City & The City" as I have seen it reviewed, praised and mentioned all over the blogosphere. It is one of those books that was a little bit difficult to get into... Possibly because I was reading it in public transport and kept being interrupted but once I had read the first few pages, I was captured by the story.

Inspector Tyador Borlu is a classic cop. He works in the Extreme Crime Squad in Beszel, an Eastern European city located somewhere in the near region of Hungary. When a young, unknown woman is found murdered, Borlu is assigned to the case and he very quickly realizes that something is not what it seems like and that this case may transcends the borders of Beszel.
So an international crime fiction, you now think? Oh no my dear, it is much more than that. The nearest neighbor to Beszel is the city Ul Qoma. Actually, neighbors is note the correct term, the two city are arch-enemies and interwoven in the most intricate way imaginable. Once it was one city but it was divided, a bit, I imagine, like it happened to Berlin. However, the division did not happen by somebody drawing a clear line, instead each building, each square meter was assigned to either Beszel or Ul Qoma and now it is up to the good Ul Qoman and Besz citizens to unsee the parts of their daily lives that lies in another city. Difficult to fathom? A bit, at first, but also fascinating and incredibly addictive.

The story itself is a true crime story, with each page the reader is taken deeper and deeper into the realms of Ul Qoma and Beszel as Borlu uncovers the identity of the young woman and follows her trail across the border to the university in Ul Qoma. It turns out that the young woman, Mahalia Geary, was a student specializing in archeology but spending more time pursuing old folk tales about Orciny, a city in between the two cities and something that comes very close to being illegal.

"The City & The City" is an amazing piece of urban, weird fiction. It is something special in the best sense of the word. The way it explores the Eastern European legacies of division (Czech Republic and Slovakia), secret police (Eastern Germany) and bureucracy  is fascinating because it takes these things to a whole new level, introducing the scary secret service Breach that steps into action whenever the two cities inevitably clash and one becomes aware of the other.
The crime story is good, though the ending was a little bit disappointing because I had seen it coming. It  could have been more radical, more extreme and more fantastical - that would have worked better for me. But as a whole it is a stunning book. It could actually be quite a contender for my top ten books of 2012 and I hope that you will give it a try.

Read it if: You have a fascination with Eastern Europe and like weird, urban fiction that challenges your imagination. If you enjoyed "Purge" by Sofi Oksanen or "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman.

16 Feb 2012

Willa Wants To Read... Books About Cakes!

The other day my boyfriend and I went for a real afternoon tea at the wonderful Hotel Ritz in London. It was a fantastic experience and if you are ever a tourist in London (or living here but haven't tried it yet), you should give yourself that experience. It is expensive but it is also something that you won't forget!

Though I am not a big baker, having delicious, artistic cakes made me want to start baking and experimenting with the art of decorating and creating pastries, petit fours and other lovely, scrumptious cakes. And of course that made me want to buy cook books...

Ladurée. The Recipes. By Phillippe Andrieu and Sophie Tramier
Haven't tried a French macaron? Laduree are the masters of the macaron and I would love to have their recipe book on my shelf!

The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Adoree
Written by a gorgeous woman (check out her website - angeladoree.co.uk) who even lives in my part of London (East) and full of sweet recipes, this is the ultimately stylish afternoon tea book. This one is definitely on my wish list and the perfect present for a girl who likes to cook!

The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days: Recipes to make every day special by Tarek Malouf
Cake recipes to make every day special. What more do you need to know? And if this doesn't convince you, the cover will, it looks absolutely delicious!!

15 Feb 2012

I Hate To Say You Told Me So....

Right there are a few of you out there who has all the right in the world to say "Girl, we told you. It's no good" because you did warn me before I started reading "Darkly Dreaming Dexter" by Jeff Lindsay. You were so right. You were. Absolutely.

I am not normally one for crime fiction but once in a while I make an exception. It was a bad call in this case... Let me tell you: Dexter works as a blood splatter analyst (quite cool) by day, by night he is a serial killer who specializes in killing other serial killers. I know, complicated. As hobbies goes this one is both bizarre and morbid. Dexter has an excuse though, he was adopted and something happened in his early childhood, leaving him seriously messed up and unable to feel anything. He can't love and he thinks only in terms of himself - i.e. he doesn't care about other people for their own sake but for what they do for him. Now there is a new and quite disgusting serial killer in town and Dexter feels like they have a special bond. Apparently so does the unknown killer and he is tempting Dexter to join him for a case of blood-bath extraordinaire.

There is only one thing that works about this book and that is the character Dexter. He is actually quite interesting. However, the rest is rubbish. Complete rubbish. No other characters work at all, the plot is awful, full of holes and ridiculous. But Dexter works which is the only reason why I finished this book.

 Read it if: I don't know. I really don't. If you are obsessed with the series. Or if it is the only book left in the library.

12 Feb 2012

Review: "Push" by Sapphire

Precious Jones is 12 years old when she goes to hospital. Her mother has beaten her up (with an iron skillet), punched and kick her. Because Precious was having contractions. In the hospital, the battered, obese pre-teen girl gives birth to a daughter and when the nurses ask the name of the father, she replies "Carl Kenwood Jones". The nurses flinch. Why? Because that is also the name of Precious' own father. This scene gives you a very good idea about Precious and the trouble she goes through. Growing up in poverty in 1980's Harlem, Precious' life revolves around being verbally abused by her mother and physically abused by her father. When she is 16, she is thrown out of school for being pregnant  - again, and again the father is man who also calls himself Precious' father.
Precious is a big girl. Not round or chubby but fat as in critically obese and this is how she hides the second pregnancy, knowing well that her mother will blame her for the circumstances. However, a teacher takes pity on Precious who is actually quite a devoted student and helps her get a place at Each One Teach One, a school for illiterate teens and adults. Because even though Precious loves her classes, she also cannot read to save her life. At Each One Teach One Precious for the first time in her life meets compassion, friendliness and care and she meets girls and women who have suffered through some of the same things as herself. In the classroom she learns not only how to read (Alice Walker's The Colour Purple) but she also learns about independence and ambition and about taking life in her own hands.

"Push" by Sapphire is a different book, a special book. It is written in Precious' own words and dialect making it rather difficult to read if you are not into Harlem street slang but I found it easy enough to get into actually. And it does give Precious her own voice, making the story more authentic than if it was written in perfect New England English.

I found the story very emotional to read because Precious is such a lovely, clever girl with such a low self-esteem. She continually wishes that she has been born as a skinny white girl with not a care in the world. Being a mother-of-two at sixteen as well as an incest and battery survivor with a reading disability and no place to live can't be easy - and it certainly isn't for Precious. And that is actually what makes it difficult to read because it is a lot of trouble to take in. I mean, nothing is really good in Precious' life. It is all very grim and even when it gets better, it is still pretty awful.

However, as much as it was over the top, it was also a good read because it engaged me on a very emotional level. It reminded me of "Lucky" by Alice Sebold because it is written with the same blunt honesty and deals with extremely difficult topics in a very matter-of-fact manner.

Ooh and by the way - it has been made into a movie "Precious" that I am definitely going to have to see! When it came out it got great reviews and I can't wait to see how it treats the story of Precious.

Read it if: You want to face the ugly sides of life. Want to motivate yourself to do more charity work.

11 Feb 2012

Review: "The Sopranos" by Alan Warner

This Christmas I spent quite a few hours with old friends. Not the friends I went to school with but friends that I have met in the library, on the pages of Alan Warner's excellent novel "The Sopranos". As some of you may know, I absolutely love this book and I have read it several times and reading it again, under the duvet while on vacation was a real treat!

In a port town somewhere in Scotland a group of teenage girls from the Catholic school Our Lady of Perpetual Succour are preparing to go on a school trip to the big city. They are all in the choir and will be competing in a choir competition with a less than saintly intent to lose so that they can come back to the port town the same evening. Why, you might ask. Because a submarine is coming into harbour and they are hoping the there will be sailors aplenty in the local disco. Yes, these are not your stereotypical Catholic choirgirls. More like girls gone wild.

The sopranos are at the heart of mischief, Finn (the Cooler), Manda, Kylah, Chell and wee Orla are teenagers in a some forgotten corner of a windy country. Poverty, cheap alcohol and teenage pregnancy is the order of the day and education and a future beyond the harbour town is something that they can only dream of. Not that they do - oh no, these girls have way too much fun to worry about things such as the future. They run the school and the Mantrap (the local disco) and spend their time worrying about boys, drinks and Orla's cancer treatment.
As these wild young women go on their trip to the big city, they defy all rules. Their fizzy drinks bottles are filled to the brim with alcohol, they have changes of clothes (mini-skirts, Doc Martens, the works) and make-up in their bags and they are up to no good. The story follows them as they head out on adventures and get to know each other and the stuck-up, prissy and rich Kay Clarke better.

It is a tour de force through the mind of teenage girls who do no worry about boundaries, grades, school or the future. They are at the same time both women and children but their behaviours are fully adult and at times rather.... too adult. As they mix vodka and Happy Meals, school uniforms and piercings, the reader gets a unique peek into that teenage girl world.

When I first read this book, I was the same age as the girls in the book and I have grown up with them, in a sense. It is also one of those books that shaped my interest in literary fiction because this book is not an easy read. Warner's girls speak in Scottish dialect and the first time I read it in original language, I did have to look up a few words to suss out the meaning of the strong dialect. Technically, I find that the strength of the book is in the characters. Each character has a distinct story and a distinct set of values and beliefs. The differences between the girls are the catalysts for interesting tensions that make this novel rise above so many other books. It is an outstanding book, don't deprive yourself of it.

Read it if: You can... the dialect can be a challenge. Otherwise try finding it on audiobook. It is a unique reading/listening experience.

For other reviews of "The Sopranos", try:

Novel Suggestions

9 Feb 2012

Review: "Forever" by Maggie Stiefvater

I am going to be brutally honest here people and start out with one thing I absolutely hated about this book: the title! What kind of a naff, boring title is "Forever"? It just screams teenage romance in the worst possible way. But let's not now judge a book by its cover (which by the way is too sparkly and silvery for me...) or its title. Let's crack on with reviewing what is actually on the pages!

*If you haven't read Shiver and Linger, DON'T READ FURTHER*

So Grace is a wolf, Sam is heartbroken, Isabel is grumpy and Cole is hyper. So everything is pretty much as when we left off in "Linger". And that is both good and bad really because it is slightly... dare I say boring?... at the beginning. The story is quite simple actually. Isabel's horrible father wants to shoot all the wolves - from a helicopter with sharpshooters... With Beck out in the woods in wolf-form and Grace constantly shifting, there is pressure on Cole to find a cure (scientist, the obvious next step from being a rock star...not). Sam is out of his head with worry and with being accused by the general society for having killed Grace, who sees that her only chance to save him from accusations is to reappear and speak with her (still horrible and cold) parents.

So quite a lot is going on. Lots of sort of action but somehow it just never makes it out of "kind of interesting" territory. Sam and Grace are just bloody boring, Cole and Isabel are the interesting characters but they don't feature enough in this book - they deserve so much more spotlight.
Basically, I only read it because I had the two others, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered with it I am afraid. Worst part of it was the ending actually.
It is too bad really because Maggie Stiefvater is actually a good writer with a great sense of story and character. "Forever" is not the ending that The Wolves of Mercy Falls series deserves and this is an author who could have done better.

Read This If: You liked "Linger" and "Shiver" and want to know how it all ends. Otherwise, don't.

7 Feb 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Hand to Someone Who Says They Don't Like To Read

You and I both know it - one book can make the entire difference. One book can turn a "nah I'd rather watch a movie"-person into "book please"-person. They know that over at the Broke and the Bookish and this weeks TTT topic is Books I'd Hand to Somebody Who Says They Don't Like to Read.

10) "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson
For teenage girls who don't like to talk and who keep to themselves, this is dark, deep YA at its best. Reading this one hurts because it is so sincere. I love it and so will most teenage girls I think.

9) "How It Ended" by Jay McInerney
This one is for the non-readers with short attention spans. Short stories that burst at the seams with energy, life and action - if this can't keep your attention grabbed, I don't know what will.

8) "Valley of the Dolls" by Jacqueline Susann
This one is for the girls who love Hollywood glamour and glossy magazines! It has more drama than any glossy and will keep them turning the pages.

7) The "Orphan Train Adventures" series by Joan Lowery Nixon
This one is for the younger (pre-teen) non-reader. I read this series over and over again when I was a small girl and they sent me on imaginative journeys into historic America. Amazing books. If you like "The Little House On the Prarie" you will love this series.

6) "Driving Over Lemons" by Chris Stewart
This one is for the adventurous and the daydreamers alike. It is the story of how Chris Stewart and his wife left the safety of their normal lives behind and sought happiness in Andalusia. Pure inspiration.

5) "Stardust" by Neil Gaiman
For the teens and the imaginative adults. Not too long but full of an energy that will take even the most reluctant reader by storm.

4) "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
This series is perfect for non-readers who like reality shows and lots of action because not is the series a prime example of dystopian, dark YA, it also contains a) reality shows and b) lots of action.

3) "Liar's Poker" by Michael Lewis
For the ambitious business school or finance student who doesn't see the values in books. This is a non-fiction book that is the a testament to the fact that real life is sometimes stranger than fiction.

2) "Emma" by Jane Austen
For those of your girlfriends who don't read but who can appreciate a good intrigue. If they like Blair from Gossip Girl, they will flat out love Emma.

1) The "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling
This is for everyone! Not only is this series about magic, about witches and wizards, it is also magical in that it has transformed legions of non-reading children into book-devouring young adults. My absolute foolproof remedy for non-readers.

So what do you recommend to remedy non-reading?

5 Feb 2012

Signed by Mr. Franzen

I struck  literary gold yesterday. While my boyfriend was standing in line in the bank (a looooong line), I went exploring in a second-hand shop next door. I love book shelves in second-hand shops because if you go into a regular book shop you kinda know what you can expect in terms of books. They will have the bestsellers, the hyped indies, a selection of classic etcetera but they won't have strange book that never really made the "hit lists" seven years ago and a bestseller from 1992. With second-hand shops you are never certain what you might find. Some of them are like Aladdin's caves full of books that you never new existed (and that you wanted) or books that are expensive in the bookshops. Yesterday I seriously found gold. Not only did I get two paperbacks for two pounds - "Juliet, Naked" by Nick Hornby and "The Almost Moon" by Alice Sebold - but I also found:

A SIGNED hardback edition of Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" that I have on the top of my "to buy" list.
For five pounds!

I felt like a had done a very good deal indeed! Have you bought any books lately?

4 Feb 2012

Finding a book in a spa in Budapest

At the moment of writing I am having my Saturday brunch coffee and blog-hopping and I just came across a great post on A Guy's Moleskine Notebook about reading books that you have found in hotels or such places. It reminded me of a holiday that my boyfriend and I went on a few years ago. For spring break we went to Budapest, Hungary, for a prolonged weekend. Most of the time was spent walking around the city (which by the way is incredibly beautiful!)

On of the walks we went to an island in the middle of the Danube, there was a huge park and at the end of the park a spa hotel. At this point we had walked - literally - miles and our feet were at the point of giving up. So we took a quick decision and went in to book a spa pass and facials. It was bliss!
The pools were great and while my boyfriend has his treatment, I perused the book shelves for something to read. And came across "Under the Duvet" by Marian Keyes.

It was one of those lucky matches. "Under the Duvet" is a collection of Keyes' journalistic writings, which meant that it was perfect for picking up and then putting down when we left the spa. It was really funny, chapters with stories about Christmas parties, friends, shoes and all the things that life as a woman involves. Hilarious reading - you can read an extract here.

Do you have any "finding a book" stories?

Review: "Lucky" by Alice Sebold

Some books are so honest, so open and so real that it affects me in an almost physical way to read them. Do you know that feeling? Where you are so immersed in a book that you tense up and end up with your shoulders right under your ears and you spine is hurting from the tension? Fairly few non-fiction books get me to this stage... actually very very few. "Lucky" by Alice Sebold is one of these very few.

You have probably heard of Alice Sebold before. She is the author of "The Lovely Bones", the highly acclaimed novel that was made into a movie. I haven't read that one but I stumbled over "Lucky" and thought I could give it a go. The topic is a difficult one. This is the non-fiction, truer than true story of how young Alice was raped when she was on her way through and crossed through dark part of a park.

This is the story of what has happened to so many girls and women. It is the story of a woman being robbed of something that she can never have back and of having to fight for her right to a normal life afterwards. Because the rape is just the first part of the story, then comes the trial and having to go through the process of being a victim and dealing with the way that people are now treating her differently.

On the back of the book it says something really profound: "You save yourself or you remain unsaved." Alice Sebold figured this out the hard way as she fought to save herself from the role that society and people pressed upon her and as she fought for what she believed was her right - a normal right.

As a book it is in a league way above most of the other "my true story" tales. It is so well-written that you almost (almost) forget that this is a real story, not just a very vivid narrator. It is an incredibly powerful book that will probably be an emotional read for most people but it is also a courageous work at art that confronts a taboo that few of us dare to discuss. Some people might be offended by the violence in the book and by the way that Sebold handles (or doesn't handle) the emotional and mental consequences of her experiences. I didn't thought - what I felt most was admiration for her honesty and her will to tell this story and encourage others to tell their stories and face the taboos.

For other bloggers' thoughts on "Lucky" by Alice Sebold try:

Amy Reads

My Dear Trash

The Mad Bibliophile