Reading Challenge: February 2015

1 March 2015

It's March already!  When did that happen?  I guess I must have been reading.

I read this mini stack of books last month and I'm pleased to report that my 50-book reading challenge is still on track.  Books 6 - 10 are:

6. Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami 
7. Burial Rites - Hannah Kent
8. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
9. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys
10.Oranges are not the Only Fruit - Jeanette Winterson

February kicked off with the odd little world created by Haruki Murakami in Kafka on the Shore. I've been meaning to read his work for a while and I am so pleased to have finally been introduced.  This novel is something of a departure from my usual choice of realistic, true-to-life fiction what with its telepathic dogs, talking cats and an appearance from a ghostly Colonel Sanders.  It seems that the author has a knack for expanding our real and mundane world into these other curious universes and in doing so offers an insight into a number of themes - coincidence, fate, isolation, identity and the ability to be self-sufficient. Nothing better than a book that gets your brain ticking!  I'm hoping that I will find Murakami's other novels just as strange and enjoyable.  

My other favourite read from this collection is by another new-to-me author, Donna Tartt.  The Secret History is a haunting story of six college students who are indelibly connected after being involved in a tragic event. I have to say thank you to Mr. B's Book Emporium for sending me this novel.  Donna Tartt is one hell of a writer and I'm a little disappointed to find that only a handful of books have been penned in her name.  At times I forgot I was reading fiction and felt immersed in a real world.  Tartt does not force the story or attempt to convince the reader and therefore the writing flows effortlessly.  I did not need to pause and try to recreate an image in my mind, it was all just there.  I guess the only downside was that I didn't particularly like the characters, although I guess you are not expected to.  By the time I had finished the novel, I was kind of pleased that the relentless misery had come to an end.  Having said this, I cannot wait to tackle the beast that is The Goldfinch.

Is anyone else attempting a reading challenge this year?  How is it going?

Happy Mail - A Beautiful Mess

22 February 2015

Since I started my Project Life scrapbook I've been on the lookout for colourful and interesting stationery bits and pieces.  Paperchase has always been one of my favourite shops for this, but more recently I discovered Happy Mail from the girls at A Beautiful Mess.  As I'm a sucker for surprise parcels landing on my doormat, I thought I would subscribe to their little bundles of stationery goodies.  In January's post (top pic), I received postcards, washi tape, envelopes, cards, tags and love coupons!  This month (second pic) was full of more candy-coloured goodness - birthday cards, stickers, a print, postcards and a white pencil with gold 'I just wanna shake shake shake' lettering.  I'm looking forward to sending out some happy mail myself with a few of these birthday cards, although I will definitely be keeping the camera-covered card for myself!  The tape, stickers and postcards will be perfect for my scrapbook too.  If you want to join the colourful world of A Beautiful Mess, you can search the tag #abmlifeiscolorful.  

I would love to know of any interesting subscription boxes that you get delivered to your door.  

A Reading Ritual (Winter Edition #2)

20 February 2015

Welcome to my second reading ritual post and the seventh book of my reading challenge.  I read Burial Rites by Hannah Kent straight after finishing Kafka on the Shore and it took me a few chapters to shake off the odd little world that Murakami created and get into another novel.  This is far from a reflection on Kent’s writing style which I really enjoyed.  It is direct and honest, as opposed to some of the flowery language in a few of my recent reads.  Burial Rites is based on the true story of a murder that took place in Iceland in the 1820s, a setting which is integral to the story.  Within this murky tale are some beautifully descriptive passages as well as some interesting and odd turns of phrase that kept me intrigued.  The book also contains a brief interview with Hannah Kent and it was interesting to read how she came to tell this particular story and the writing process that she went through.  In fact, it has prompted me to look out for some books on the subject of writing.  When one book closes, another one (or two) is added to the wish list!
P.S. To warm my bones during this rather chilly tale, I sipped a cup of ‘Snore & Peace’, snacked on choccy biscuits and lit a few heart-shaped candles!  

Postcard Fiction - An A-Z Series : C

17 February 2015

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Writing Prompt - Charlie Chaplin

Leaving the city of broken umbrellas, they bundled into the cinema.  Its flickering screen unnoticed by their whispering chorus line, all Eskimo hoods, flushed faces and giant paper cups.  White rectangles of light illuminate them.  Fingers tap keys and delve into sweets that crackle like marbles.  A giggle follows a nudge.  Warm popcorn aroma battles the odour of damp coats which cling firmly to the seats.  A text arrives with a whoosh and a whistle. 

But then, a bowler hat, a moustache and upturned boots.  We watch the forlorn figure, his weary eyes under charcoal curls.  Every movement is a dance.  The wind’s shrieks are lost to us.  The latecomers as silent as Charlie himself.  We all disappear.