104 in 52…July tally

Here is the continuation of my books for this year – I am way behind both reading and posting!

10.  The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer


I really enjoy this type of book, although they do all start to blend in to each other after a while.  This is a saga about a group of artistically talented American teenagers who meet at Spirit-in-the-Woods summer camp and become friends for life.  Ethan Figman is a talented animator breaking new ground in the 1980’s and I am sure his story is based on Matt Groening of The Simpsons.  Questions of ethics arise, as do loyalty, envy and power.  The worst thing about it is the clunky title.  Enjoyable but not outstanding.



11.The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton


I keep trying to read Booker Prize Winners but again I have to admit defeat after slogging through at least a third of this book.  I didn’t get the astrological references and the lack of a decent female character left me no-one to identify with.  As a New Zealander I should have found this foray in to 19th Century Hokitika facinating but instead I found it convoluted and slow.  Has anyone enjoyed this?




12.  Questions of Travel – Michelle de Kretser


A lovely novel  with many modern themes around immigration, travel and culture.   The story follows the lives of Laura, from Sydney, and Ravi, from Sri Lanka until their lives intertwine in the offices of an Advertising Agency in Sydney.  Laura is restless and travels around Europe until finding what she thinks is her perfect job as a foreign correspondent.  Eventually the roaming life loses its appeal and Laura is back in Sydney.  Ravi’s wife is the victim of a terrible murder and he is carrying the weight of that as he leaves Sri Lanka in an attempt to leave a dangerous and hopeless situation behind.  In Sydney they both must face their true and essential selves.




13. Tokyo on Foot – travels in the city’s most colorful neighborhoods – Florent Chavouet

The illustrations in this diary/guide  are gorgeous even for those of us who have not spent any time in Tokyo.  For someone who knows Tokyo I am sure you would get even more out of this book.







14. I am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

My hubby picked this up at the Airport – probably thinking he was getting value for money judging by the size of this book.  It’s pretty exciting and really up-to-date. It kept us both amused on trains and planes for the next few weeks  Just a shame it is written in the first person which makes the hero sound like a big-headed *@#?   Pure escapism.






15. The Glass Palace  – Amitav Ghosh

This is my favourite type of book – historical fiction – because you learn so much history as you are reading as well as enjoying a good story.  The Glass Palace is set in Burma and Malaysia at the beginning of the 20th century and follows a family’s fortunes through a time of great change in the Colonies of the world and the upheaval of the First World War.  At times a little plodding.






16. The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

This book is based on a Russian Fairy Tale about a childless couple who build a child out of snow and she comes alive.  It sounds far-fetched but somehow Eowyn Ivey has written a compelling book.  She has set her version of the story in Alaska in the 1920’s and her couple, Jack and Mabel,  have come north from America to escape the pain of being childless amongst family and friends where they are made acutely aware of their lack of family.  The story inspired me with the pioneering spirit of the couple and their constant battle against the harsh elements of Alaska.  When they make their Snow Child they both believe she has come alive but neither is game to broach the subject with the other, for fear of bursting the bubble of hope they both hold close to themselves.  A precarious relationships gradually develops between Faina the Snow Child and the Jack and Mabel –  the Snow Child always remains something between a nymph and a human daughter to them.




17. We are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Fowler

I saw this book being reviewed on The Tuesday Night Book Club with Jennifer Byrne.  All the presenters gave a positive review of  We are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which is unusual, so I thought I would give it a try.  It is a lot smaller and more accessible than many of the books reviewed on this programme.  I enjoyed the story but the effect on me was spoilt somewhat by my prior knowledge of the subject matter.  Hence, I will say very little about the plot but encourage you to read this (without googling it).