About Jennifer Jones

Love being healthy and keeping fit by cycling, gym, and bushwalking. Other passions are genealogy, family history research and reading

#AtoZChallenge Reflections

 

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

It’s now three days since the challenge ended, so time for my usual end of challenge wrap.

Successes

This year I was more organised than I have been in any previous AtoZ Challenges. When the challenge started, I had all posts, up to the letter T, completed and ready to go. This really took the pressure off, and allowed me to read more posts than usual on other AtoZ Blogs.

Finding new and interesting blogs is a highlight of the challenge for me, but usually I get frustrated that there isn’t enough time to devote to this. This year, I read blogs on the subjects of family history and genealogy, travel, health, fitness, books, movies and music. There are so many more topics that bloggers write about, than I ever previously knew about. Over the past four years, the AtoZ Challenge has opened my eyes to these amazing blogs and bloggers.

I really enjoy reading and commenting on a diverse range of blogs, reading their replies and getting to know bloggers from all around the world. This is a huge highlight of the challenge for me.

Another highlight is the comments that other AtoZ bloggers left on my blog. Even though I’ve been blogging for many years, this blog is only six months old. I was quite humbled that it was so well received during the challenge. There were so many lovely and supportive comments left for me over the past month. I am very proud to say that I have answered all comments. I’m very diligent about that, as I feel if someone has taken time to leave me a comment, the least I can do is reply.  A bonus is that from comments left, wonderful conversations often do develop.

The Challenges

I wrote that what worked was having all posts up to T complete at the start of the challenge. But it wasn’t ideal that posts after T hadn’t been completed. I had read the books to be reviewed after T, and planned to write the reviews in the first two weeks of the challenge. But of course the best made plans often don’t happen, and I had a bit of a panic and a few late nights in the final week, getting the posts completed. Note to self: next year complete all posts before the challenge begins.

Even though I visited, read and commented on many blogs, I would have liked to spend more time doing this, than I was as able to do. I’m genuinely interested in other blogs and bloggers, so spending time visiting blogs and commenting is a pleasure.

Over the next month, I plan to continue visiting AtoZ bloggers that I missed. I will be posting about some of these blogs, that readers here may be interested to make contact with.

Looking to 2020

At this point in time, I intend to be back for the AtoZ Challenge in 2020. I am planning to participate on this blog and also on my Family history/Genealogy blogTracking Down The Family. Doing the challenge on two blogs is a huge challenge. I know this as I did it once before, but I’m very keen to do it again. This will take planning and perfect organisation.

My promise to myself is that just for a change, I will be this person who has made the perfect plan and is perfectly organised. For me, this is part of why AtoZ is a challenge. Other bloggers will know that it isn’t easy to publish a post every day.  But getting to the end of the month, knowing that I have done exactly that, is what makes me feel proud of myself and I love that feeling.

I give many thanks to all of those bloggers participating in the AtoZ Challenge who took the time to visit and read my posts. I do appreciate that you were interested enough to take time out from what I am aware is a very busy month. I’d love you to come back and say hello during the year. But otherwise I will look forward to reconnecting with current and new challengers next year.

Big congratulations to all AtoZ Bloggers who completed the challenge. You did it! So it’s time now to celebrate your success. 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge Z is for The Zahir by Paulo Coelho

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

The Zahir is narrated by a best selling author, who lives in Paris and has been living the perfect life with his wife, war correspondent Esther. But now, Esther has disappeared with a friend Mikhail. It’s not known after her disappearance, if Mikhail is her lover. He may be, but then again, he may not be.

Esther’s disappearance is a mystery, as she also appears to have been living the perfect life, with her husband. Was she murdered or perhaps kidnapped. Or did she escape the confines of a life with her husband which left her feeling unfulfilled and empty.

The narrator is lost for answers. Eventually he is contacted my Mikhail, who promises to reunite him with his wife. In the process of this the narrator discovers something unexpected about himself.


“…I had convinced myself that I could only be happy with her, not because I loved her more than anything and anyone in the world, but because I thought only she could understand me; she knew my likes, my eccentricities, my way of seeing the world…….I was used to seeing the world through her eyes.” – Paul Coelho, The Zahir


“…suffering occurs when we want other people to love us in the way we imagine we want to be loved, and not in the way that love should manifest itself – free and untrammeled, guiding us with its force and driving us on.” – Paul Coelho, The Zahir

My Thoughts

I’m a huge Paul Coelho fan, so was looking forward to reading this book. I wasn’t at all disappointed. The Zahir is a pilgrimmage of sorts and cover the themes of love, loss and obsession. I love Coelho’s writing, and this book is no exception. As is usual, in Coelho’s books, he focuses on the meaning of life, the mean of love, and finding our place in the world.

The narrator of the story annoyed me at times, and parts of the story annoyed me at times. However, I really did enjoy this book. The questions the narrator asked himself and the tiny bits of trivial information he felt that he needed, truly did captivate me. There were many literary references which I also enjoyed.

My Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the author

Paulo Coelho

 

Paulo Coelho was born in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist and journalist. In 1986, Coelho did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage.

His books are written in Portugese and translated into English.

 

 

Published in 2006 by Harper One. Paperback 336 pages

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#AtoZChallenge Y: You by Caroline Kepnes

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

This is the debut novel, by Caroline Kepnes. Guinevere Beck, an aspiring writer, wanders into a book store. Soon, she is having a friendly conversation with Joe Goldberg, who is working in the store. Joe googles her name from her credit card, to find out all he can about her. He checks out her public Facebook page, and her Twitter feed, where he gets a huge amount of general information about her and about her life.

When she posts on Twitter that she will be at a particular bar that night, Joe makes sure that he is there for a ‘chance’ meeting. From there, he makes sure he has her under his control to the point that he takes over her life.

On the surface Joe is her perfect man. However, things are not as they seem. Joe is controlling her and stalking her. This is a story about the modern age of communications and living life online. You demonstrates how vulnerable we all are in the digital age, to stalking and being manipulated, without even being aware.

My Thoughts

You has been compared to Psycho, Gone Girl and even Stephen King’s Misery. I loved all of those books, but unfortunately I can’t say the same about You. Everything that happened seemed to me to be too easy for Joe.  But perhaps that’s the way the world is today, in this digital age.  The story line seemed to me to be very contrived and convenient.

For me, You was a difficult read, as I didn’t really care too much about the characters and could have put the book down. and decided not to finish it, at any time. I definitely didn’t feel it was a page turner, though going by some of the reviews, it appears that I am in the minority. I also should state. that I’m not a huge fan of crime or psychological thrillers, so am probably not the best person to comment on this book.

About The Author

Caroline Kepnes

 

Caroline Kepnes was born and lives in the U.S, dividing her time between California, Cape Cod, and Massachusetts.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

First published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Paperback 424 pages

 

 

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*Images: Goodreads

#AtoZChallenge X is for X by Sue Grafton

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

A Kinsey Milhone mystery

  This is the 24th novel in Sue Grafton’s series of novels that are named after each letter of the alphabet. Investigator Kinsey Milhone, known by regular readers of this author, is based in a fictional city in Los Angeles and ready to solve the latest mystery.

A glamorous redhead hires Milhone to find her long lost adopted son. This should have been a quick easy job for an investigator but the mystery quickly builds when Milhone finds that she was paid with notes that were marked. It becomes clear very quickly that this client has something to hide.

My Thoughts

I’m not a regular reader of the crime genre but I did enjoy this suspenseful mystery, with it’s very well rounded characters.  As this is the 24th book in this ‘alphabet’ series, I can help but wonder if Grafton’s books are written to an obvious winning formula. I will definitely be reading another of her books, and expect to be able to form an opinion after that reading.

Recommendation

“Kinsey Milhorne is up there with the giants of the private-eye genre, as magnetic as Marlowe, as insouciant as Spenser…….Exhilarating” – Times Library Supplement

My Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About The Author

SueGrafton.jpg

 

Sue Grafton was a Number One International Bestselling and very prolific author of mystery and detective novels. Her books have been published in many languages and have appeared on The New York Times Bestseller lists many times and for many weeks each time.  She passed away in 2017 before Z for Zero was published and so the alphabet series ends at Y.

 

Published by Random House publishing in 2015

Have you read any of Sue Grafton’s novels. I’d be very interested to hear what you think and promise to reply to all comments

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*Images: Goodreads and Wikipedia

#AtoZChallenge W: We were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

The Mulvaneys of High Point Farm in Mount Ephraim, New York, are a large happy family, who have been blessed with good looks and a happy, future full of certainty. But as time evolves, things don’t go to plan for the Mulvaneys. On Valentine’s Day in 1976, an incident, involving a member of the family, causes upset and reverberation through the family for the rest of their lives.

The story spans twenty five years, and is told years later by Judd, the youngest son, as he attempts to make sense of the past and the events that destroyed his happy family.

My Thoughts

We Are The Mulvaneys is a story of the rise and fall of a family. Of how quickly the perfect life can become a tragic life. The first few chapters contain quite long character introductions, which some may find tedious as I did at first. But they grew on me, and later in the book, I was thankful for such thorough introductions, as they helped me understand why certain characters did what they did, and why they reacted the way they did to unexpected circumstances.

Recommendation

It was the title that had me hooked immediately, making me want to read this book. We WERE the Mulvaney’s. Why ‘were’? Immediately I wanted to know more about what happened to this family.

I say every reader out there should read this book, but I may be biased because I love love this story of the Mulvaney family. I was totally enthralled from start to finish and couldn’t get enough of this slightly wacky family and their wacky ways. Perhaps this book means more to me because of events beyond my control that destroyed my own happy family life. I did feel a connection and sympathy towards the Mulvanney Mum, even though many times, I felt like shaking her and telling her to wake up and do something to bring her family back together. 

“It is a book that will break your heart, heal it, then break it again” – Los Angeles Times
“One of our most audaciously talented writers: – Erica Jong
“Novelists such as John Updike, Philip Roth, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer slug it out for the title of the Great American Novelist. But maybe they are wrong. Maybe, just maybe, the Great American Novelist is a woman” – The Herald

Star Rating 4.5 star

About The Author

Oates in 2014

 

Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific American author, born in 1938. Her first novel was published in 1962 and she has since published a further 42 book. She has won many American and international awards for her writing and her books. We Were The Mulvaneys became a best seller after being selected as an Oprah’s Book Club book.

Published by Harper Perennial, Harper Collins Publishers in 2007.
First published by Fourth Estate in 2001. Paperback – 454 pages

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 Images: Goodreads

#AtoZChallenge V: Voyage to Australia – Private Journal of James Bell

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Private Journal of James Bell
Edited by Richard Walsh with an introduction and epilogue by Anthony Laube

This book is the personal diary of James Bell, who took the long voyage to Australia in 1838, leaving his family and friends, and not knowing what to expect of the new country, so far away.

The story of how this diary came to be published is incredible.  Firstly, it’s very survival  is worthy of mentioning.  The original diary turned up at a country bookstall in England, 150 years after it was written, and The State Library of South Australia managed to raise the necessary funds to buy the diary at auction.

James Bell , aged 21, set out in the sailing vessel, the Planter, from St. Katharine Docks in London to travel to Adelaide, Australia, an infant colony, half a world away and not yet two years old. He left behind family, good friends and the mysterious C.P, a young woman with whom he hoped one day to be reunited.

The voyage that James Bell undertook was meant to take about 130 days, but due to the incompetence of the Captain, and many misadventures along the way, it actually took six months to arrive in Australia. The many unforeseen events and dramas that occurred along the way, made the voyage extremely difficult. There was a mutiny, drunken fights, orgies and a storm resulting in the loss of the ship’s sails.

It is obvious in reading his words, that James Bell has a great sense of adventure. He also has a love of poetry, great religious faith, and is very nostalgic about his memories of those he left behind.

More than a century after the diaries were written, the reader can’t help but be reminded of the dangers of such an adventurous voyage. I am also reminded how lucky we are, that adventurous people like him, and like my ancestors, were brave enough to take the long voyage to a land that at the time was little known.

An excerpt from the preface written by James Bell:

“The following is not merely an account of the Ships course, and a mere mention of the places passed during my voyage to South Australia, but a noting down from day to day of the thoughts and ideas that occupied my mind at the moment – and my reason for this was that I might bring my observation of the events, as well as manners, to be more directly upon my own conduct, and in this way correct any thing that might be amiss, as well as tending to the strengthening of those principles, with which my mind has been imbued, as I am convinced that this is the best way of fixing occurrences upon the memory” – James Bell

 My Thoughts

The story of how the diary came to be published had me intrigued. I couldn’t wait to get into this book and when I did, I found it hard to put it down.

I really enjoyed James Bell’s descriptions of the other passengers and his very detailed account of their comings and goings. He doesn’t hold back at all, in expressing his opinion of most of them.

My interest and passion for genealogy and Australian history also contributed to my enjoyment of this book. I’m not really sure if readers without those interests, would rate this book as highly as I do. Perhaps I am slightly biased towards the subject matter.

For those who decide to read A Voyage to Australia, I hope you enjoy this beautifully presented book, as much as I did.

The Epilogue

The epilogue traces the lives of many of the passengers after they reached Australia, with information of how they coped with life in the new, unknown country. There is also a passenger list with names of all passengers and crew.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Published by Allen & Unwin in 2011.
Hardcover with dustjacket – 202 pages including bibliography

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

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This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

https://annualbloggersbash.com/2019/04/10/the-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-vote-is-live/

#AtoZChallenge U: Untold Story by Monica Ali

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

 

Summary

The most famous woman in the world.
Her death mourned by millions.
What if she hadn’t died after all…..?

What if Princess Diana didn’t die? Her seemingly idyllic life was both nightmare and fairytale. She may have been living a priveleged life, but she often felt lonely and trapped. Could she have been tempted to take the opportunity to start her life over again, but this time live her life quietly, and out of the spotlight of the media glare.

Fictional English Princess Lydia, thought someone was plotting to assassinate her, so she decides to stage her own death and and start a new life in a quiet area of Midwest America. Life abroad goes well for her, as she makes Kensington her new home. She makes many new friends but she cannot forget the family she left behind.

Unexpectedly, she has an encounter with paparazzi and the new life, and her anonymity, that she has worked so hard to create for herself, are put under threat and she wonders if she will ever be able to put her past behind her.

My Thoughts

The topic and plot of this story drew me to it. However, I didn’t enjoy the way the story went from the present day, where it is narrated by Lydia and the photographer who is sure he knows her real identity, to the butler in her past, who helped her to disappear. The story is also told from the letters that Lydia wrote to the butler ten years earlier.

I was irritated by the way the chapters seemed to jump back and forward from past to future and to the letters.  This spoiled my enjoyment of the book. The premise and plot could have made an engrossing read, but the style that this book was written in, just didn’t do it for me.

My rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Monica Ali

 

Monica Ali is a British writer and novelist, born in Bangladesh.  When she was three years old, her family moved to England, where she still lives today with her husband and children.

 

First published in Great Britain by Doubleday, 2011.
This edition published by Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2012. Paperback, 342 pages

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This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

https://annualbloggersbash.com/2019/04/10/the-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-vote-is-live/

photo: goodreads

#A-ZChallenge T: Toymaker by Liam Pieper

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Bold dark and compelling, The Toymaker is a novel about privelege, fear and the great harm we can do when we are afraid of losing what we hold dear – blurb

Adam Kulakov is middle aged and owns a toy company which brightens the lives of children all over the world. He is wealthy and seems to have everything that anybody could ever desire. But Adam makes  mistakes that threaten to destroy everything.

Adam’s grandfather, who began the toy business, was an Auschwitz survivor. But to survive, he had to make a very difficult choice. That choice has remained secret for his entire life. As he is now coming to the end of his life, he is watching his grandson managing the family business in such a way,  that it’s obvious to him that he will likely destroy it, and all he worked for in his life. But he must continue to keep his secret, so as not to destroy his family.

Written in both the present and the past, contrasting Melbourne, Australia today and life in Auschwitz in WW11.  The Toymaker is both dark and compelling. It tells the story of how close we all can be to losing what we love the most.

My Thoughts

I found most of the characters easy to dislike but the story is amazing. The subject matter  is at times quite challenging, especially towards the end, where the reader may question their moral attitude to doing what needs to be done to survive, at any cost.

The final chapters of this book are extremely powerful and meaningful with the best ending that I’ve read in a long while. I just didn’t see it coming. Pieper adds a twist to the novel that changed my entire perception of the story. As soon as I read the last page, I wanted to read the book again, knowing the ending.  Were there hints along the way that I missed?  

Recommendation

I couldn’t put The Toymaker down and have it on my list of best ever reads. It is a Holocaust book with a difference, like no other I have previously read. 

“His writing is electric” – Weekend Australian

“Pieper is a sharp, smart and classy writer” – Saturday Paper

“Hugely memorable, The Toymaker is an unflinching examination of the dark instinct for survival that lies in all of us” – Hannah Kent, author

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About The Author

Liam Pieper is a Melbourne based author and journalist. His first book was a memoir, The Feel Good Hit of the Year, shortlisted for the National Biography Award and the Ned Kelly Best True Crime award. His second was the Penguin Special Mistakes Were Made, a volume of humorous essays. He was co-recipient of the 2014 M Literary Award, winner of the 2015 Geoff Dean Short Story Prize and the inaugural creative resident of the UNESCO City of Literature in Prague. The Toymaker is his first novel.

Published by Penguin Random House Australia in 2016. Paperback – 263 pages

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.
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This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

https://annualbloggersbash.com/2019/04/10/the-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-vote-is-live/

 

Image:  Goodreads

 

 

#AtoZChallenge S is for Stasiland by Anna Funder

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Stories from behind the Berlin Wall.

Shortly after the Berlin Wall fell, in 1989, East Germany ceased to exist, after the reunification of East and West Germany.  In Stasiland, Anna Funder tells the amazing tales of what life had been like in the former East Germany.

Anna Funder was working in Berlin, when she became interested in the fall of the Berlin Wall. She placed an advertisement in the newspapers, inviting people to be interviewed by her, about their experiences at the time. As a result, Funder met with both ordinary people, trying to survive, and members and ex members of the Stasi. The stories they told were truly intriguing and shocking.

“In this land
I have made myself sick with silence
In this land
I have wandered, lost
In this land
I hunkered down to see
What will become of me.
In this land
I held myself tight
So as not to scream.
-But I did scream, so loud
That this land howled back at me
As hideously
As it builds its houses.
In this land
I have been sown
Only my head sticks
Defiant, out of the earth
But one day it too will be mown
Making me, finally
Of this land.
-Charlie’s poem”
Anna Funder, Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

 

‘’Peter Fechter, the eighteen-year- old shot trying to escape in 1962 and left to die on the death strip, because each side thought the other would retaliate if they went to help him. Someone has thrown him a roll of bandages, but he lies immobile and bleeding.’’ – Stasiland

My Thoughts

I am a fan of Anna Funder’s novels, but her writing and the subject matter of Stasiland, touched me to the core. The stories in Stasiland read more like fiction, but because they are true, the harrowing nature of the stories some had to tell, are both horrifying and unimaginable.  This is a book I will definitely read again, but it had such a huge affect on me that I need a little space between the first and second reading.

Stasiland is extremely powerful writing at it’s best. I found it was like a punch to the stomach to read about the suffering that should never have happened. Anna Funder does not mince words at all. She tells it as it was, as  she takes us to the falling of the wall, which is earth shattering and very real to the reader.  The consequences of the fall and subsequent stories we read about the people who were living behind the wall at the time, are unforgettable.

Even though the subject matter is very heavy and dark and extremely sad, there are also many funny and bizarre moments to balance out the darkness. and unhappiness.

Recommendation

‘Anna Funder explores, in the most humane and sensitive way, lives blighted by the East German Stasi. She allows ex-Stasi operatives an equal chance to reflect on their achievements, and finds—to her dismay and ours—that they have learned nothing.’
— J. M. Coetzee, author

‘Stasiland is a brilliant account of the passionate search for a brutal history in the process of being lost, forgotten and destroyed. It is a masterpiece of investigative analysis, written almost like a novel, with a perfect mix of compassion and distance.’
– Elena Lappin, Sunday Times

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About The Author

Anna Funder

 

Anna Funder was born in Melbourne in 1966. She has worked as an international lawyer for the Australian Government, focusing on human rights and constitutional law. She grew up in Melbourne and Paris and now lives in Sydney with her family.

Published in 2004 by Granta Books.
Paperback, 288 pages


Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.
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#AtoZChallenge R is for Ransacking Paris by Patti Miller

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter R

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

Patti Miller was a mother of adult boys, when she arrived in Paris,  where she intended to write for a year. She felt as though all her dreams had come true. In her words: ‘As if the light that comes after the sun has gone down, has spilled gold on everything’.

Patti grew up on Wiradjuri land in rural Australia, where she had a happy childhood and where her heart and soul still belonged. But she asked herself what she thought she would find in Paris that she couldn’t find at home. How could she feel a sense of belonging in this city made up of centuries of other peoples stories?

To find out, Miller jumps between the reality of her world, and the fantasty of chatting with French writers of the past, Montaigne, Rousseau, de Beauvior, and other memoirists.  They travel with her through the streets of Paris, and have coffee with her, as she chats to them about their lives, discusses with them, the important things in life – family, love, suffering, desire, motherhood, truth telling, memory and how we discover who we are in the world, and our relationship to place and identity.

This is the story of Patti Miller’s year in Paris, in 2005, where she writes her memoir and discovers who she is in the world.

‘This great world of ours is the looking glass in which we must gaze to come to know ourselves from the right slant’ – Michel de Montaigne

My Thoughts

The format of Ransacking in Paris is a chapter for each month of the year that Patti Miller is in Paris, which to me really worked. I  loved the way she wove her memories sentimentally into her thoughts today and into her conversations about the lives of the famous authors from the past. 

“All those Mountain years, I wanted to live in Paris, it was my dream, but everyone has unfulfilled dreams. C’est la vie. I began to turn to memoir, more and more interested in exploring the self in writing, ‘the self’ as a physics and metaphysic as Montaigne put it. Why on earth couldn’t the self be a respectable subject for literature? It was a territory as complex, as vast, as any other, a moment-by-moment hallucination of sense impressions, emotions and thoughts, continuously creating the experience of a shady, chestnut tree, an itchy leg, a smiling face, a sense of belonging, of love, and grief and delight. isn’t an ungraspable sense of being, in fact, the only thing that connects each one of us” – Ransacking Paris, page 12

The paragraph above to me is beautiful descriptive writing and warms my heart. It makes me want to put everything aside and spend time writing my memoir.

This book is a very personal account of Patti Miller’s year in Paris, as she makes friends, and tries to live her life to way the locals do.  The book goes very deeply into her thoughts and feelings, about stepping out of her life in Australia, and away from her family for a full year. Ransacking Paris evokes a very strong sense of identity and place.

Recommendation

‘Miller produces compelling prose…beautifully rendered and perceptively evoked” – Australian Book Review

I’ve read this book twice now and would recommend it highly.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About The Author

Patti Miller was raised on a farm in Central western NSW.  She has written many books and in 2012 won the NSW Premier’s History Award. She has taught writing for over twenty years, including at the innovative Faber Academy in Sydney. Miller regularly takes groups to Paris to write for extended periods.

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Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads
#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

https://annualbloggersbash.com/2019/04/10/the-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-2019-vote-is-live/