#AprilA-Z Challenge E – Elevation by Stephen King

#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. My theme for 2019 is Book Reviews.

Elevation

Summary

Scott is losing weight. Every day, the numbers on the scales decrease, even though he his not getting any thinner. The number on the scales is the same, whether he is wearing clothes or not. This is a riveting and very moving story about how one man’s problem can bring a small town together and bring about change to long held prejudices against others. A story about finding common ground within our differences.

My Thoughts

The above summary is very short. That is because, I really don’t want to spoil this book in any way for the reader. It’s a short read and could be described as a novella. I think it’s best to read it, knowing very little of the storyline.  This is a great story about tragedy, friendship and community, regardless of the underlying horror that is occurring.

I’ve been a huge Stephen King fan for years. But over recent years, I haven’t enjoyed his books as much as I did his earlier novels. Unlike some of King’s story lines, this one is very believable – even though it is totally unbelievable. King has that way of making the unbelievable seem believable.

This is an unusually small book for King.  It’s my opinion that the characters could have been developed more in a larger book. I do wonder if this book is trying to tempt readers who don’t want to invest large chunks of time into reading. I have friends who don’t read anything by King because of the length of his books. I would love to have seen this story be longer. But I’m happy, if the shorter length means more people are attracted to reading one of the most popular authors the world  has seen.

About The Author

King at the 2007 Comic Con

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Many of his books have been adapted into major films and TV series. King received the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.  In 2007, he won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and in 2015 he received America’s National Medal of Arts.

He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist, Tabitha King.

My Rating:   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Published in 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton. Hardcover with dust jacket – 132 pages

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#AprilAtoZ Challenge D: The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison

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 published. My theme for 2019 is book reviews

The Dirty Book Club

Summary

M.J. Stark has the perfect life. On the surface that is. When you dig a little deeper, it is obvious that she is very lonely and unhappy. When offered the opportunity to start a new life in California, she can’t resist.

Shortly after her arrival in the small beach town, she befriends her elderly neighbour who moves to Paris shortly after their meeting.

However she has left M.J. with an invitation to a secret book club. The people she meets in that book club, along with the letters they read, written by the original members, create an unexpected bond between them and cause them to share the stories of their own lives. What is said in the book club stays in the book club, so they feel free and safe to be open and honest about their lives.

My Thoughts

Having been a member of a book club for many years, I was drawn by the title, as I do enjoy a story about a book club. I like to make comparisons between the book clubs in novels and my book club. Of course, there is rarely any comparison. In my opinion my book club is the very best of all.

Don’t be fooled by the title. This book is not an erotic novel. It’s a story about relationships, and the friendships that develop between members of a book club who joined together without previously knowing each other.

The writing is humorous and a little racy at times. It took me a while to become interested in the characters, but when I did the story took on a new life for me and I didn’t want to put it down.

There definitely were commonalities between this book club and my own. We are a group of members who came together, mainly through a love of books without having a history with each other. We talk freely and our book club meetings are a safe place to speak our mind. This connection really increased my enjoyment of the story.

Recommendation

Even though I struggled with the first few chapters, once I felt I knew the characters I found myself very involved with the story. I would recommend The Dirty Book Club to anyone interested in reading about friendship and relationships.

About The Author

Lisi Harrison

Lisi Harrison left her position at MTV Networks in 2003, to write The Clique Series. That series has sold more than eight million copies and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two hundred weeks, with ten titles hitting Number 1. The Alphas was a Number 1 New York Times bestseller, and Monster High was an instant bestseller. Her latest YA series is the Pretenders. Lisi lives in Laguna Beach, California, and has been a proud member of her own dirty book club since 2007 – from the backcover

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster in 2017.
Paperback, 313 pages

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Images: Goodreads

#AprilAtoZ Challenge A – The Alchemist 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

This book has had a huge impact on my life, but I find it really difficult to write a review without spoiling it for future readers. Because of this, the following is from the blurb. Rarely do I simply copy the blurb for a summary but nothing I could write about this book  could describe it any better.

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world.  This story, dazzling in it’s powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago, who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. 

Along the way, he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself King, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest.  No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way.  But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods, turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. 

Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts. 

My Thoughts

“Every few decades a book comes along that changes the lives of it’s readers forever”.

The above quote was written at the top of the back cover and it really does ring true for me. After I read  the book, I couldn’t help but read that sentence over and over. At the risk of sounding ‘hippy dippy’, I knew that this book would have a huge impact on my life.

Three of my favourite quotes from The Alchemist

  • “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to realise his dream”
  • “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve – the fear of failure
  • “The secret of life though, is to fall seven times, and to get up eight times”.

The edition of The Alchemist that I have contains an Introduction from Paulo Coelho. At the end of the book there is a readers guide and an interview with the author which I found really interesting.

Recommendation

Since that first reading, about eight years ago, I have read the Alchemist every year, in early January.  This is when I set my goals for the coming year, and particularly for the first three months of the year. 

As with the first time I read it, with every subsequent reading, I feel very inspired.  The Alchemist empowers me to be able to set goals that are outside my comfort zone, and to quiet those voices in my head that tell me that there is no way I could reach those goals.  With every reading I get something new out of it. Whether it’s a quote that I hadn’t noticed in previous readings or a thought that comes to me while reading.

There are many readers and reviewers who really dislike The Alchemist and I can understand why that could be. Some see it as a self-help book, but I see it as much more than that. For me The Alchemist is  the book that I hold dearest.

My 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.

In the following year, The Alchemist was released. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.

 
Published by Harper Collins in 1993. Softcover 167 pages. Mystical fiction.
Originally published in Brazil in 1988 in Portugese.
Later translated into English and many other languages.

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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#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

My Top 5 Stephen King books

I first discovered Stephen King when The Shining was published in 1977. I can remember clearly, being home alone with it late at night and being too scared to move off the chair. I was hooked on King from then on.

I would wait impatiently for each book to be published. Fortunately Stephen King is a very prolific author and the wait was usually not too long.

I really loved the books published up until about the year 2000. After that I found for some reason that I wasn’t enjoying his books as much as in the past.

I put that down more to me, and what was going on in my own life, rather than to the author.

Recently, I have read King’s two latest releases and found that I was taken back to those early days of really loving his books and writing. I have rediscovered one of my favourite authors, and what joy that is.

I have now decided to re-read those books that I didn’t enjoy. Perhaps time will have changed my outlook.

The reason I mention this is to explain my top five books from King, which are all from the early years. They are listed below in no particular order. These books, I have read multiple times. They have stayed with me for decades.

Are you a Stephen King fan? If so what is your favourite book? I love it when you comment and promise to reply to all.

 

 

 

 

Review: The Widow of Ballarat by Darry Fraser

Summary

This is the story of Nell, who becomes a widow in the early pages.  The setting is Ballarat, at the time of the 19th century goldrush and the Eureka Rebellion. In a time where women were not treated as equals, Nell’s courage and strength take us on a journey back in time to a harsh male dominated environment.

This is the story of Nell’s struggle for survival, and the obstacles she comes up against in her fight to move forward from the abusive life she lived with her husband.  All Nell wanted was the opportunity to earn her own living and live a happy and peaceful life with her new chosen partner.

As the author shows, it is a harsh life on the gold fields, and harsher for women struggling to earn a living and ensure their own safety. The challenges are great and at times seem insurmountable.

From the back cover: ‘Passion, adventure and a woman’s quest for independence, set against a dramatic 19th century backdrop….’

My Thoughts

The author weaves events from history into the novel, which is what I love about reading historical fiction. I felt as though I was there on the goldfields, living the life of a down trodden female. I could really feel the dreadfulness of a life lived that way. Most books written about this era of Victorian history, show the male viewpoint. How lovely it was, to read of the events of the day, and every day life from the perspective of a female.

Recommendation

The Widow of Ballarat had me hooked almost immediately. By chapter 2, I knew this book would be unputdownable. As a genealogist and family historian with ancestors who lived and worked on the goldfields at Ballarat and surrounding areas, I was immediately taken back to that time and place.

If you have an interest in Victorian history, you will love this great story of the time interwoven with a lovely romantic story line.

I would recommend first reading the Free prequel – Hill Of Gold

This is the first book written by Darry Fraser that I have read, but I will be seeking out her other books in future.

www.darryfraser.com


About The Author

Darry Fraser is an author of Australian historical and contemporary fiction who lives and works on Kangaroo Island.
Other books: Daughter of the Murray and Where the Murray River Runs.

My Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Published by Mira, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises, in 2018. Historical novel. Paperback 354 pages

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Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Summary

On a very hot night in the summer of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, age 13 is woken by knocking at his bedroom window.  He finds Jasper Jones there, trying to wake him. Jasper is an outcast in the town. He is a bit rebellious, a loner and of mixed race.  But when Jasper asks him to go into the night with him as he needs help, he goes along, even though he is terrified. Jasper takes him to his secret place in the bush where Jasper’s horrible discovery is revealed.

Charlie promised to keep the secret but is weighed down by it. All that he knows about life so far, changes that summer. He constantly argues with his mother , falls in love and his relationship with his best friend Jeffrey Lu changes. Secrets are revealed and life is never the same again.

My Thoughts


Jasper Jones is a coming of age story set in a small town in Western Australia. It captures perfectly, life in small town Australia in the 1960s.

The chapters are quite long, but the writing is beautiful to read.  I did find the first half of the book quite tedious, as the characters were set up, and the tension and underlying simmering in the town were introduced.  This seemed to take longer than I felt was necessary, and I just wanted to get to the story.

But I did really enjoy the second half as it moved along quite quickly.  Instead of showing 1960s Australia as very peaceful and nostalgic, this small town was  revealed to be a place of prejudice, racism and intolerance. As the community confronted what was happening in their town, those ugly traits became worse.

Recommendation


I’m sure this book wouldn’t be for everyone. It isn’t an easy read but if the time is invested to get into the story, the rewards are great. This story has been recommended as being Young Adult reading, but that confuses me. To me, Jasper Jones is heavy going and covers subject much to dark for Young Adult.

I couldn’t get this book out of my mind for a long while after reading it. There is much written there to make the reader squirm and feel uncomfortable. The final scenes which I won’t reveal were gut wrenching and unforgettable.

Jasper Jones has been described as Australia’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m not so sure about that. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favourite books of all time, and to me Jasper Jones doesn’t come anywhere near it.  But possibly I am biased.

Awards

Winner of the Indie Book of the Year Award in 2009
Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2010
Winner of the Australian Book Industry Award in 2010
Winner of the Booksellers Choice Award in 2010

My Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Published by Allen & Unwin in 2009. Genre? Softcover 394 pages

CraigSilvey.png
               Craig Silvey

Further reading:  Craig Silvey discusses writing Jasper Jones

Have you read this book. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I really appreciate the time it takes you to comment and promise to reply to all comments.

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