It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

itsmonday“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and are planning to read next.

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My reading week

Slaap zacht, Johnny Idaho by Auke HulstFunny Girl by Nick HornbydewittThe Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

I finished reading a Dutch book, Slaap zacht, Johnny Idaho [Sleep tight, Johnny Idaho] by Auke Hulst, which I thought was very good. At the moment, I’m reading my book group book, Funny Girl by Nick Hornby. This is a great read, too. I’m enjoying it a lot.

Next up it’s Ablutions by Patrick DeWitt, the author of The Sisters Brothers, a novel that I loved a lot and, if there’s time, The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami .

Reviews

The Village by Nikita LalwaniUs by David Nicholls

The Village by Nikita Lawani

Us by David Nicholls – in Dutch. :-)

My challenges

FitReaders2015

#Fitreaders is a challenge for all readers (and everyone else, really) who like to get more active. Last week, I did three days at 7,000+ steps, one at around 5,000 and one below 5,000 (but not far). My goal is 3 x 7,000  and 3 x 5,000 per week, and one day off. So, not good and not bad. The weather was awful, though (excuses).

Cut-Out-Processed-Food

The Cut out Processed Food in 14 Weeks challenge was not so easy last week (the fourth week of the challenge): Eat no take away or deep-fried food. We hardly ever eat take-away food, so that wasn’t the problem, but I do find oven fries very handy on days that I’m busy (or lazy). So yes, that happened. Plus some potato crisps… Me bad! The challenge for the new week is to eat two new whole food items. I’m thinking quinoa and something else (not sure yet).

 

What are YOU reading this week?

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Book review: The Village by Nikita Lalwani

The Village by Nikita LalwaniThe Village: What it is about

From the publishers: “After a long trip from London, twenty-seven-year-old BBC filmmaker Ray Bhullar arrives at the remote Indian village of Ashwer, which will be the subject of her newest documentary. From the outside, the town projects a cozy air of domesticity—small huts bordering earthen paths, men lounging and drinking tea, women guiding bright cloth through noisy sewing machines. Yet Ashwer is far from traditional. It is an experimental open prison, a village of convicted murderers and their families.

As Ray and her crew settle in, they seek to win the trust of Ashwer’s residents and administrators: Nandini, a women’s counselor and herself an inmate; Jyoti, a prisoner’s wife who is raising her children on the grounds; Sujay, the progressive founder and governor of the society. Ray aims to portray Ashwer as a model of tolerance, yet the longer she and her colleagues stay, the more their need for a dramatic story line intensifies. And as Ray’s moral judgment competes with her professional obligation, her assignment takes an uneasy and disturbing turn.”

The Village: What I thought

I liked the idea of the book and the idea of visiting an open prison in India. I didn’t like the main character, though. Ray was a rather egocentric person, who, although Indian and able to speak the local language, seemed to feel more out of place than her colleagues. She suffers with stomach upsets and the local people find her accent strange. And the fact that she is vegetarian is considered with suspicion. Ray’s personal life goes from bad to worse, as does her professional credibility.

She tries to get people to talk about their life but her boss back in England doesn’t find it interesting enough. So, meetings are arranged between people who do not want to meet and people are pushed into doing things they don’t want to do, just because of the program.

The villagers are all prisoners (murderers) who behave with integrity, really trying to get their life in order, while the English interlopers spend their time trying to bring about some drama and cause trouble among the locals.

I would have liked to see some more local flavour to this story. Of course, the reader learns about the prison and about certain Indian customs, but in general, the book is too much about Ray and her worries and sorrows.


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (okay)

Number of pages: 272

First published: 2012

I got this: won it online

Genre: Contemporary fiction

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

itsmonday“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and are planning to read next.

*****

My reading week

Us by David NichollsTegenpool by Pauline SlotDisclaimer by Renée KnightIsland of the Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahonSlaap zacht, Johnny Idaho by Auke HulstFunny Girl by Nick Hornby

I finished Us by David Nicholls. This was a fun book to read. A bit of a road movie, traveling through Europe, 4 stars. I also finally finished a Dutch book, Tegenpool by Pauline Slot, which I liked so-so. But to be fair, I only read small bits at a time.

I enjoyed Disclaimer by Renée Knight, which is a psychological thriller. Not too thrilling but it had some unexpected developments, which I really liked, 4 stars. I also read Island of the Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon, which was a quick and enjoyable read, 4 stars.

Currently I’m reading a Dutch book, Slaap zacht, Johnny Idaho [Sleep tight, Johnny Idaho] by Auke Hulst. After that, it’s time for my book group book, Funny Girl by Nick Hornby.

I posted my review of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell HERE and if you read Dutch, check out my post about the evening with David Mitchell HERE.

My challenges

FitReaders2015

#Fitreaders is a challenge for all readers (and everyone else, really) who like to get more active. Last week, I did three days at 7,000+ steps (twice above 10K!), three at around 5,000 and one below 4,000. My goal is 3 x 7,000  and 3 x 5,000 per week, and one day off. So, that was a good week.

Cut-Out-Processed-Food

The Cut out Processed Food in 14 Weeks challenge was easy last week (the third week of the challenge):  Eat less meat and if possible, local and organic. Since I don’t eat meat, my challenge was to eat fewer highly processed meat replacement foods. I did manage this for most of the week and I also kept the earlier challenges going (more fruit, drink only coffee, tea, milk, or water). The challenge for the coming week is to eat no take away or deep-fried food. No so hard, except for the oven chips that we regularly eat.

 

What are YOU reading this week?

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Book review: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks by David MitchellThe Bone Clocks: What it is about

From the publishers: “One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking . . .

The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland’s Atlantic coast as Europe’s oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.”

The Bone Clocks: What I thought

Reading this book was not an undivided success: The beginning and the end were beautiful, the middle dull, and the fight between the two secret societies (let’s call them that) ridiculous. I didn’t care much about those societies; I found them unconvincing. Their story was a clever idea, but for me that part of the book was really just a story.

I think the problem was that we were initially (and indeed in the second and third instances) given second-hand information about the societies and their workings. Holly Sykes, a 16-year-old who had run away from home, experienced some odd moments, which could later be explained as the result of the actions of the members of these societies. I would have much preferred to have seen this story from the point of view of one of these members much earlier than was the case so I could see firsthand what happened. Hindsight explanations are fine, but it would have been much more convincing to experience this firsthand.

Anyway, the story of Holly, both in the first and the last part of the book, was interesting. But it felt as if there were two different Holly’s: one was sixteen years old and ran away from home, the other was in her seventies and grandmother. During the intervening years, we came across Holly only occasionally and not as a main character. Because we always looked at her from the perspective of someone else, I did not feel attached to her so much and I found it hard to see in the old lady the same person as the young Holly.

The book is divided into six parts, with each part told from the perspective of a different character, except the beginning and the end, where Holly plays the lead role. Each part is placed further in time, such that the book takes place over a period of about sixty years. The division into parts was not unpleasant but some parts went on for quite a long time. Indeed, I wonder whether the book really should be as big as it is (around 200,000 words, phew!). It is packed with great insights, observations and ideas, but whether these all had to be present in one book? Cut to the chase! I would occasionally cry, but then I politely continued reading. Until there was that fight between the secret societies. I’ll be honest: During that part of the story, I skipped a bit here and there. The rest of the book I completely read, but that fight felt like a cliché adventure story.

In contrast, the ending was again superb! We are then in 2043, in a post-apocalyptic world where the Chinese are in charge, there isn’t enough food (there is a food bank where everyone (everyone!) gets their weekly portions) and many items are no longer for sale. Electricity is scarce and the Internet is irregular (and is already limited in scope).

A nasty world, while it had started so innocently in 1984.

This is a book full of ideas and events, but a very big book. For the real Mitchell enthusiast this is a must of course. Others may just think twice before they start reading it, because it’s an investment in time – but you certainly get something for your trouble!


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (okay to good)

Number of pages: 608

First published: 2014

I got this: from the Dutch publishers

Genre: Contemporary fiction

 

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