reading notes: the sister and chains

26 03 2009

So I’ve finished two books since I last blogged: The Sister by Poppy Adams and Chains by Laura Halse Anderson.

The Sister I won in a draw from Melanie at The Indextrious Reader.  I’ve been wanting to read it for sometime so I was really excited when I won a copy of it and some other books and I decided it would be the first of the lot I read.  I did enjoy it, and I kept reading, eager to find out what happened, though something seemed to be lacking for me.  I complained before about the end of chapters in The Crimson Portrait, how there was too much made at the end of each chapter, but here I found I had the opposite problem.  Many chapters seemed to leave me too abruptly, still waiting more of the scene.  I’ve always been fascinated with the unreliable narrator though and I think that is what really intrigued me most about the novel.  There was a whole other story here, and I loved trying to figure that out my reading through the lines and gathering the hints and suggestions Adams wove into the narrative.

Though I enjoyed The Sister on that level, I felt a bit disappointed in my reading of it.  Chains, on the other hand, was a really engaging read.  Anderson’s novel takes place during the American Revolution.  It focuses on Isabel, a young slave girl who is supposed to be freed (with her baby sister) after her owner dies, but the inheriting nephew sells her to the Locktons, a couple who support the Loyalists.  The action takes place in New York and it is interesting seeing the Revolution through this perspective.  Isabel’s struggle to free herself and her sister kept my attention right from the start, and the persecution she experiences is absolutely heart-breaking.  Anderson does a good job of stressing the irony of slavery in a country that is fighting for independence without that message ever becoming preachy.  I found the characters well-developed and complex, with even Mrs. Lockton – Isabel’s chief persecutor – was more complicated and her actions more horrific because she is herself is a victim of abuse.  I have to say that my only problem with the book is that Isabel’s story will continue in another volume and according to Anderson’s website that won’t be till the fall of 2010.  It seems such a long wait when I’m so anxious to continue with Isabel’s journey.


photo of the day: berry out of focus

23 03 2009

I’ve been seeing things a bit out of focus recently, thanks to all the photos I’ve been taking with my lensbaby.  This is one of my favourite shots using the macro attachment.

photo of the day: tart lemon

19 03 2009

I’ve just purchased a Lensbaby muse so today involved a lot of experimentation with different objects around the house, including marbles.  The colour of this one reminded me of a tart lemon pie.

reading notes: Little Bee and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

16 03 2009

I’ve finished two very different books this week, though both do connect to war.  First was, Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  This novel focuses on a young Nigerian girl who has adopted that name for herself.  The story starts with Little Bee just being released from an Immigration detention centre in England.  I don’t want to say much more about the book, as much of the power comes from the way the book unfolds (as made clear on the blurb on the inside cover).  It was a difficult read at points, but very, very powerful and special.  I knew I’d love it when I opened it up in the bookstore and read the first sentence: “Most days I wish I was a British Pound coin instead of an African girl.”

Usually, I read books and then pass them onto the Artsy Mama if I think she might like them, but this time around she read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society first and told me – well, more like demanded that I read it immediately.  It had been on my radar since it’s publication, but I’d been holding off buying it.  I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the Artsy Mama did, but it was a great read, really quick with a whole range of interesting and often quirky characters.

And there was so exciting news last week – I won some books from Melanie at The Indextrious Reader.  They all look good, but I think I’ll read The Sister first as it’s one I’ve been interested for awhile.

photo of the day: will

8 03 2009

review: sacred games

7 03 2009

I’ve finally finished Sacred Games, and what a fantastic book it is!  It’s just a sprawling novel, very Dickensian in its scope and interwoven stories, and a completely enjoyable read.

The novel focus on Sartaj Singh, a police inspector, who is stuck in a middling position with little to no hope of a long overdue promotion.  An anonymous tip leads him to crime lord Ganesh Gaitonde, who has returned to India after spending many years abroad and is holed up in a bunker.  This is just the starting point of a truly epic novel as Singh become involved in an investigation about Gaitonde’s return to India.  Interspersed with Singh’s investigation of that case and others are Gaitonde’s own story of how he became one of the most powerful gangsters in India.

The stories overlap and intertwine and things you thought weren’t all that important are reintroduced at a later point in the book.  Chandra carefully weaves his plot so that all the strands connect, though often in random and unexpected ways.  My one complaint with the book is that I felt there was too much of an emphasis on this right towards the end of the book in the chapter entitled”Two Deaths in Cities Far from Home.”

The characters are all well-rounded, full of flaws and failings, and Gaitonde, in particular, is a captivating creation, a powerful man, but one with deep feelings of insecurity and loneliness.  What I also loved was the sense of place that Chandra captured throughout, in his use of language and quotes and songs and smells.  It isn’t a world that I think I would want to live in, but I certainly enjoyed observing it as a fly on the wall.

photo of the day: the wall

2 03 2009

Last weekend the Artsy Mama, my aunt and I visited the War Museum.  I’d been wanting to visit the museum for quite some time, and when I found out about the WWI Trench Life exhibit, I really wanted to see it before it closed as part of my research for that project I mentioned in my last post.   I’m hoping to post more images and an overview of our visit soon, but one image that has stayed with me was a magnetic wall that allowed people to share their thoughts about war.