Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

This is going to be very quick since I am trying to catch up. I have been desperate to read this book since it came out, but it was always out at the library. A few weeks ago, I thought to check the Large Print section and there it was, in fact they had two copies. So, now I know what to do in future.
Robert Langdon, a renowned symbologist is asked by his mentor to give a lecture on very short notice. He rushes off to Washington only to find that his mentor, Peter Solomon has been kidnapped by Mal'akh and his right hand left in the Capitol building for Robert to find. Robert then teams up with Peter's sister Katherine to find the lost Masonic Pyramid and discover the lost word which will obviously solve all mysteries. Of course, nothing is as easy as it sounds and they are continuously chased and hindered by the CIA as well as being sent around by Mal'akh.
I enjoyed the book,however, it really follows the same old Dan Brown formula (not necessarily a bad thing) and I really didnt feel it was his best. Having said that there is a lot of action, twists and turns and enough historical information to keep me hooked throughout. What really frustrated me about this book was the CIA agent, Sato. She was so arrogant and obnoxious, and refused to give anything out. As a result she appeared to be the bad person and infact I thought she was in cahoots with Mal'akh in the start. I realise that obviously this is part of the plot, mystery etc, but in this book I thought that it was taken to such an extreme that it didn't really help the story.
Anyway, all in all I did enjoy the book and will be looking out for the next one.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Spud by John van de Ruit

I have been a bit over-blogged since the read-athon. Not to mention busy with work! I am quite behind on my reviews, so there should be a few more coming very soon!
Spud is a book by a South African author, about a young boy who wins a scholarship to a prestigious private boarding school. He arrives at the school which closely resembles a mad house, and in diary form it takes you through his adjustment to school, life as a young teenager in 1990s South Africa, his meetings with girls and assorted other adventures.

Now, I first read this book shortly after it came out. A little bit of background information here, is that I played tennis with the authors sister, I grew up in the same area and his mom came to our church. My grandparents also lived about 15 minutes away from the school it is based on. So, when the book first came out, that was the reason I bought it. But I loved it then. I saw the movie at the beginning of the year, which I also enjoyed and decided to reread the series.
Spud is a really mad book, and  has a bit for everybody. It is laugh aloud funny at times, but deals with serious issues that all teenagers face at some stage. There is really a bit of everything and Spud has to face it all - night swims, romance, ghost hunting, mad parents and even madder granny (aka The wombat), being the star cricketer, actor, but failing hopelessly at rugby (closely aligned to god in South Africa),not to mention an insane cubicle mate, demented cat and some really odd teachers. It deals with bullying, issues of identity, self-esteem, romance and even death, all of this is handled in a light-hearted way without getting bogged down in too much negative emotion.
Obviously this book appealed to me for the fact that it really took me down memory lane in a way, and it is quite South African. However I think it would appeal to many groups of people - those who like comedy, anybody who was a teenager in the late 80s, early 90s,  anyone who went to boarding school.
A couple of things which may upset some people - there is a bit of reference to sex in a typical early teenage manner, although there are no sex scenes, it is more them desperately trying to devise ways to have sex. Also, one of the pupils has an affair with a teachers wife, this is not really out there, but is alluded to rather than discussed. There is also a lot of typical boy high jinks and a little bit of violence, bullying etc, although not by the main character. It didnt bother me and my 13 year old has seen the movie and read the book, we had a discussion about the issues and that was it.
Anybody who read and enjoyed Adrian Mole will love this book!
On a totally different note, I am desperate to read a book called Hard Time by Shaun Attwood, which details his experiences of life in prison in Arizona. His blog entries reminded me so much of a grown up Spud! Obviously, much bigger issues dealt with, but his style is very similar.  

Sunday, 19 June 2011

FINISH LINE: SiS Readathon Report # 2

Ok, I failed hopelessly last night at staying up all night. I wrote my last update at 8pm my time (12:00pm MT) , but only started reading again at about 9pm. I read until 12, from then I battled to stay awake until about 1:30am. Then I decided to have a half hour nap, when I woke up I still couldnt stay awake, lol. I did set my alarm, but it didnt help. So, here we are at the end. I hope it is okay that this is a little late, since I have only just got up now.
1.First of all, give us an end-of-read-a-thon status update. Books read, pages read, you know the drill!
Total Books read: 4 and a half
Total pages read: 1308
Books read since last update: 1
Pages read since last update: 255
Total time read: 21 hours. (Was probably a bit more, but since I kept falling asleep I havent counted it)
How am I feeling now. Well after about 6 hours sleep not too bad! Just wondering why I am able to stay up much later to read books than to study.

Books finished since the start of the readathon:
  • Absolution by Caro Ramsay
  • The two towers by J.R.R Tolkien
  • The secret Island by Enid Blyton
  • Beach Road by James Patterson
  •  King Solomon's mines by H.Rider Haggard.

2.What is your favorite book you read during the read-a-thon?
The two towers but I enjoyed all the books that I read

3.Did you participate in any mini-challenges? Which ones?
I have to say I didn't do very well in this department. Partly due to the difference in time zone. By the time the challenges got up and running I wasn't in the mood to be sitting at the computer. But, a lot of it was also that I was just so busy reading that I didn't get onto the computer much. I only did the Book Character Pairing and the Organisation one.

4.Which mini-challenge was your favorite?
I loved looking at the wordles and this will definitely be something I do on my own. But this is my daughters computer, so have to wait until I get mine back.

5.What has been your favorite thing about the read-a-thon?

I loved the twitter feed, although I didn't tweet much. I also enjoyed just taking the time out to read.

6.Are you satisfied with how much reading you got done? Did you do more than you expected? Less?

I actually read more than I expected mainly because I got more time to read than I expected. With my daughter spending time away unexpectedly I was uninterrupted.

7.What did you think of the updates? Too close together? Didn't like the time limit?

I liked that they were 2 hours apart, gave you time to get reading inbetween. I understood them to be voluntary unless you wanted to win that prize and so I chose to do 4 hourly updates. The reason I did this is I know I am a computer addict and tend to get stuck here, so didnt want to be on the computer too much. What I did do is to check the site on my phone every 2 hours then if there was a challenge that I really wanted to take part in I would have. I think also that having regular updates means that you fit in with every bodys schedule. Those that are ready for a break can stop, those that aren't can carry on. As far as the time limit goes I think 2 hours is fine, especially for those that only require you to answer a question. Maybe it could be extended to 4 hours for those like the writing one, the puzzle and the wordle that require a little bit more.

8.If you could change one thing about the read-a-thon, what would it be?

As I said in my previous post one of my problems was the time difference. But, obviously that will never satisfy everybody and has to fit in with the host! Where I did have a big advantage was that it only started at 4pm for me so I didnt have a problem with work. I wouldn't change anything actually I thought it was well planned and run. I would make sure I had a few more drinks at home and more comfortable reading places. I got a bit tired of the same places and it was rainy so I couldnt go outside. Also, I would have a few childrens books (long ones obviously) available. I did read one and it really broke the intenseness of the reading.

9.Would you participate in another read-a-thon hosted by Squeaky Books? Why or why not?
Yes I would I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

10.Any last comments on the read-a-thon?

Nope, they are sprinkled above.

Thanks for a really great 36 hours.


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Spring into Summer Readathon Day 2 Update Post

Update 2 (officially number 8)
This is my 2nd update for today, but the 8th in the readathon.

If you had bookshelves FULL of all of your favorite books, how would you organize them?
Now this is really a question that I need to consider, since I have so many books and need to sort them out. When I say so many books, I have my own, my dads, my moms and even some of my grandparents! They are in bookshelves and boxes all over. I really need to go through them.
Most likely I would organise them alphabetically by authors name, since it makes them so easy to find. It is one of the reasons that I hate the main library near me, since it is so huge that often books are put back incorrectly and you can never find anything. I would put series together, but otherwise strictly alphabetically. But now here comes the problem! I really love the look of a row of books all of the same size. I dont like the higgledy piggledy look of all different sizes together. Whenever I have organised my daughters bookshelf (which I have to do fairly regularly) this is my main bugbear. So, I would probably have it alphabetically but bigger books in a shelf on their own.
Whew, that was a bit of a novel wasn't it?

Total books read: 3 and a half
Total pages read: 1103
Books read since last update: 1 (Beach Road by James Patterson)
Pages Read since last update: 232
Total time read: 1017 minutes (16hrs 57 min)
How am I feeling: Actually I am quite tired at the moment, so I have stopped for a bit of a break, to eat and rest my eyes a bit. I may have a little nap later, but hope to read right through now. My daughter is home, so she has been reading with me for the last couple of hours.

Books finished since start of readathon:
1. Absolution by Caro Ramsey
2. The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien
3. The secret Island by Enid Blyton
4. Beach Road by James Patterson

Update1 (officially update 6)
24 hours into the readathon and I am doing relatively well, I think anyway. I had a bit of a nap at lunchtime but apart from that and making and eating lunch I have read for most of the day. I have also just found out that my daughter is going to play squash with her friend and will get dropped off, so I dont need to go out at all and can just continue reading.
Total books read: 2 complete books, (Absolution, The secret Island), and a half (finished The Two Towers)
Total pages read: 871
Books read since last update: 1 and a half
Pages read since last update: 313
Total time: 840minutes (14 hours)
How am I feeling: Actually quite good, enjoying the book I am reading at the moment, about to get some coffee. I just want to say that this time I have had much less snacks etc since the last readathon and I actually seem to have managed better!

Was to pair two characters from different series.

When I saw this I was immediately reminded two of my favourite male characters of all time (Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series is the third)
I personally think that al Lan Mandrogaron from The Wheel of Time Series and Aragorn/Striker from Lord of The Rings would make an awesome team. They have always struck me as similar characters, both strong, silent type, loyal and will do anything to do what they need to do. They definitely would kick some *ss if together.

SiS Readathon Report#1

Being 8 hours ahead of most of the others, it is mid morning for me, but should be early hours of the morning for everyone else. I went to sleep around 1:30am my time and slept until 7. Since then I have been reading most of the time, apart from the time it took me to have a bath and make some breakfast. I am actually on my own at home today, but will have to fetch my daughter at some stage. I hope to read for the rest of the day!

So, here is my report for the end of Day 1.

1.First of all, give us an end-of-day status update. Books read, pages read, you know the drill!
Total Books Read: 1 (Absolution by Caro Ramsey)
Total pages read: 558
Books read since last update: 1 (As above)
Pages read since last update: 223 (117 Absolution, 106 The two towers)
Total time read: 640 min (10hrs 40min)
How am I feeling: Happy now I am up and dressed

2.What is the favorite thing you have read today? Can't really say I have a favourite since I thoroughly enjoyed both books I am reading.

3.Which mini-challenge was your favorite? Oops, have totally failed at these, but loved the Wordle

4.What has been your favorite thing about the read-a-thon? Being able to just relax and read, as well as the twitter feed. I have been lucky that my daughter spent the night out

5.What has been your LEAST favorite thing about the read-a-thon?
Not really a problem, but the huge time difference meant I am opposite to everyone else
6.Are you on track to meet your goals?
Yes, am actually nearly there.

7.Will you be participating tomorrow? Do you have any new goals?
Yes, would like to get to 1200 pages. I plan to read for most of the day but will probably have a nap after lunch so that I am awake for most of the night too.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Spring into summer readathon update post

Update 2 - 12pm (South African Time)/4:00pm MT
This may or may not be my last update for tonight, since it is midnight now and I am getting really tired now. However, the book I am reading has got me hooked, so I may finish it.

Total Books read: 0
Total Pages Read: 355
Books read since last update: 0
Pages read since last update: 223
Total time read: 410 min (6:50min)
How am I feeling: Battling to keep my eyes open!

Update 1
I will probably update this post a few times before making a new update post, just so that I dont overload things with too many posts!
So, we are now 4 hours into the readathon and here is my first update.
Total Books read: 0
Total Pages Read: 132
Books read since last update: 0
Pages read since last update: 132 (The two towers 71, Absolution 61)
Total time read: 190minutes (3hrs 10 minutes)
How I'm feeling: Eager to read more before I get too tired! (8pm here)

Spring into Summer Readathon Starting Post

So, the readathon has begun. I have been reading for a bit but not had a chance to get on the computer before now. I cant do complicated posts on my phone, lol. So here is my start post.

What do you hope to read during the read-a-thon?

  • As I said in my previous post my book list is huge, but I obviously dont expect to read all of those books and may chop and change between them.

What book are you starting with?

  • The two towers by J.R.R Tolkien. This is a challenge book and I started with it at page 206.
I hope to read:

  • at least 700 pages, but hopefully more. I want to finish The two towers.
Where are you going to read?
  • At home for most of the time, but tomorrow will need to ferry my daughter around so will read in the car for a bit (not while driving, lol). Probably in my bed, but maybe outside or on the couch. It is actually winter here, so depends on the weather.
What will you include in your updates?

My updates will look like this:
•Total Books Read: __________

•Total Pages Read: __________

•Books Read Since Last Update: __________

•Pages Read since last update: __________

•Total time read: __________

•How I'm currently feeling:

Spring into summer readathon

The readathon commences in just under an hour and my books are all ready to go! I obviously won't read all of these, but wanted to have a wide variety in case I get bored. I definitely would like to finish Lord of the Rings, and also have an e-book which I am halfway through and so may read a bit of that too. Before I can start reading I need to drop my daughter off at her friends house where she is spending the night. I will be updating here and on twitter (@tracydurbs)
Sent from my BlackBerry®

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Just had a conversation with the 13 year old that went like this:

13 year old: "Whatks for dinner?"

Me: "the remains of last nights supper"

13 year old: "That's the problem. I just watched a programme on talking chickens and I have decided to become a vegetarian"

Me: "but you don't eat vegetables"

13 year old: "That's ok, I'll just eat the rest of the stuff!"

Now, if you don't eat meat and you don't eat vegetables (including beans etc) what is there left to eat. Surely man cannot live by Carbs alone? Any suggestions?
Sent from my BlackBerry®

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Solitude of Emperors by David Davidar

The Solitude of Emperors
I got this book from my bookclub and when I opened it I found that most of the rest of the group had not enjoyed it at all, which made me a little concerned, but I dutifully read the book. I was glad I did, because I really enjoyed it in the end.

What is it about:
Vijay, a young man from a smallish town finds a job at a newspaper in Bombay. Whilst there he gets involved in the Bombay riots of 1992-1993 and is injured, necessitating some time off work. His boss, Mr. Sorabjee sees that he is becoming depressed and sends him off to investigate some trouble in a Niligris town called Neham. There is a Christian shrine called the TOwer of Silence which is being targeted by a Hindu group. Within a couple of days he has met Noah, a slightly older man who lives in a cemetery and helps him with his investigation. He discovers that this shrine is going to be attacked on the next feast day and attempts to prevent this. At the same time he is asked to critique a manuscript by his boss, Mr. Sorabjee.

What I liked about the book:
It is really down to earth and nothing is brushed over. The author does not shy from describing anything or exploring feelings and emotions experienced by the characters. Even some of the comments he makes on social customs etc I guess could make you feel a little bit uncomfortable if you were part of that culture. He probes issues and really puts it all out there as to the motives of the people. (There is a large Indian population here and I could see quite a few similarities.) Even the scenes with the riots really had nothing left to the imagination. The story flowed relatively easily. Throughout the book Vijay reads parts of the manuscript and in this way the author is able to discuss some quite serious things without making it seem like a lecture or instructions.

What I didn't like:
The only real gripe I have with the book is that Vijay himself seems very dull. You want to shake him and tell him to get a life! This made the book quite dry and slow at times, however all in all it is still an enjoyable book.

I will definitely look out for more books by this author.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The silver chair

The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia, #6)
Sorry I am a  bit behind with this series now, I have been writing exams and then sick and not got a chance to do any reviews. I still have to read the last one, but hope to get it from the library as soon as I get a chance to go back.
This books starts off with Eustace and his friend Jill being snatched from their school in England and back to Narnia. Jill meets Aslan and gets given some signs to watch out for in her quest to find King Caspian's long lost son. She is then sent off to find Eustace and get on with the quest which involves searching through the wastelands, into the giants land and then into the underlands, where we meet the witch, and then of course they find the prince and save the day!
I have to say that I loved this book, I found it to be so much more detailed than the others. It is definitely my favourite so far. There is much more of a plot, the children are so much more central to the story and there are many exciting adventures. The only things I didn't like was that there were times where the characters were really blind!
Favourite bits:
  • I loved the description of why the school was not suitable
  • The ride through the air
  • The marshlands (more on this later)
  • the Hall of Harfour scenes
  • the underland scenes
I just have to talk about Puddleglum the Marshwiggle, I think he is my favourite character in the book so far. He reminds me of Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh, always looking on the dark side of life, whilst seeming almost cheerful about it. I love how he says that they wont like other marshwiggles because they are glum, lol. He really makes the books.
A couple of scenes which I found funny reading them in todays world, when words mean slightly different things:
1. "Gay," said Puddleglum with a deep sigh. "That's what we've got to be. Gay." ... "All right. Gay's the word," said Scrubb. "Now, if we could only get someone to open this door. While we're fooling about and being gay, we've got to find out all we can about this castle."

2. She made love to everyone - the grooms, the porters, the housemaids, the ladies-in-waiting, and the elderly giant lords whose hunting days were long past them. She submitted to being kissed and pawed about...

Quite funny in todays English, lol.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•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 much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here is my teaser for this weeK:

"Abruptly he placed his hands behind my head and pushed my head down - I didn't know what he wanted, didn't even know what he was thinking. In confusion I glanced at his half-closed eyes"

Taken from City of Light, by Lauren Belfer pg214

Monday, 6 June 2011

It's Monday, what are you reading

This is the meme where we all get together and share what we have been and are reading. I haven't had a chance to do this for a few weeks, since I have been studying and had flu, but I hope to start doing it again more regularly.
In the last week I have read:
Absolutely loved this book, I forgot how funny Jilly Cooper is.
Dante's Numbers (Nic Costa, #7)
I love the Nic Costa series, but this was not my favourite one of the series. Way too confusing for me, and the ending left me with so many questions!

Currently I am reading:
  • City of Light by Lauren Belfer, which I have just started
  • The two towers by J.R.R Tolkien which I am reading for a readalong.
I hope to be more productive this week with my reading. For more book inspiration pop over to Sheila's blog

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Summer (winter for me) readathon

This post is to announce to the world that I'm participating in the Spring into Summer read-a-thon hosted by Enna Isilee of Squeaky Books!

This read-a-thon is going to be so great! It's two days where you try do NOTHING but read. It's a great chance to get rid of some of those books that have been sitting on your TBR pile forever.

But that's not all! There will also be awesome mini-challenges and a TON of giveaways! In fact, just for signing up you are entered to win a $25 gift card to Amazon! SO GO SIGN UP! And if you say that Tracy G. sent you, you'll get 5 extra entries to win that gift card! CLICK HERE to enter to win, and know all there is to know about the read-a-thon.

Here's my goal:

I plan to participate on: BOTH DAYS, (although do have to fit a bit of work in inbetween)
I plan to read: 2 books at least
I hope to read: This will be decided upon closer to the time, since I am not sure how much I will get to read between now and then. My TBR list is growing!
Well, have you signed up yet? DO IT NOW!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Too good to be true by Sheilah O'Flanagan

Too Good to Be True
Carey and Ben meet on a transatlantic flight between Ireland and New York. Carey invites Ben to a party, they fall in love and rush off to Vegas to get married. A few days later, they jet back to Dublin and that is where things fall apart. Everybody is shocked at their marriage, Bens on - off girlfriend is determined to win him back and they find that things are just not quite the same in real life.
I love Sheila O'Flanagans books and have read quite a few. I have been reading quite a few heavy books lately, so this was really light and refreshing which was what I needed, and I did really enjoy it. However, this particular book I didn't feel was the best of her books. Although there were some funny bits it was not nearly as funny as it could have been. Also, it did drag on quite a bit during the middle of the book. The two main characters were also a bit frustrating, once they returned to Dublin  both carried on as if they never got married and expected the other one to be happy with it, particularly when things started falling apart. Also, they never talked about anything, just packed things in.
If you are looking for a light, funny, easy read this book is definitely for you!