Thursday, July 02, 2009

June Reading Round Up | June's Book Club Book Review

The notebook / Nicholas Sparks
In a Southern nursing home, an 80-year-old man reads from his diary to his wife, suffering from Alzheimer's. It's the story of their teenage romance, followed by years of separation because he was from the wrong class, followed by her decision, on his return from World War II, to be her own woman and marry him.~ from the blurb.
Call me cynical but the idea of grand passion is something I'm not sure I believe is possible. I'm all for romance but this one just seemed to good to be true. The real bits were the struggles and pains of the old man seeing his wife deteriorate... the rest was just too fairytale and contrived for me. Maybe the movie is better?

Living the good life / Linda Cockburn
A day-to-day account of an inspirational family experience - to see whether it is possible to live by the principles of domestic sustainability to their utmost degree. Alongside are fascinating facts and anecdotes on the environment, recipes and tips for people interested in changing their own way of life.~ from the blurb
Very much enjoyed this one - a true story set in Queensland, Australia of a family who set out to be self-sufficient (from their own backyard) and not spend any money for 6 months. Authentic and inspiring. They are fortunate to live in a climate where things grow mostly all year (rain issues notwithstanding). Not sure it could be done in Auckland! The goat might cause some neighbourly problems...
Linda has a blog - she and her family now live in Tasmania and are building a straw bale house. (extreme jealousy from me! at the straw bale house, not the Tasmania bit).

Journal / Hélène Berr ; translated from the French by David Bellos ; with an introduction and an essay by David Bellos ; and an afterword by Mariette Job
With her colleagues, Helen Barr plays the violin and she seeks refuge from the everyday in the "selfish magic" of English literature and poetry. But this is Paris under the occupation and her family is Jewish. In March 1944, Helene and her family are arrested, taken to Drancy Transit Camp and soon sent to Auschwitz. This is her journal. ~ from the blurb
I'll have to admit I found this one pretty harrowing - not so much because of the writer's experience but the horrors she relates happening around her. Especially to children. I find it very hard to read about that kind of stuff at present. Her writing is extremely poignant and some of her observations are thought provoking. Recommend you read it when you feel like a gloomy read.

Book Club Book of the Month
The Zookeepers Wife/Dianne Ackerman
A true story, in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands. When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw - and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socialising, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants - otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes. With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around he
r. ~ from the blurb

I was a bit disappointed in the book because I felt the writer didn't do the story true justice. There were moments of great descriptive writing, and the people themselves were obviously highly interesting people with a great story... but the book seemed to lack spark.

Janine, Mel, Sharon, have also reviewed this one.

I'm off to the Waikato on Saturday to crop in the presence of greatness! Some famous NZ scrapbookers will be there. :) :) I'll be in the corner fiddling with my photos and papers whilst trying to prevent my jaw opening too wide - might have to take some Malteasers to help keep it shut. LOL! Seriously looking forward to sitting down and doing some creative stuff. I'm managed to put together some page kit things and will attempt to leave the kitchen sink at home.

Wonder if I have time to make cookies to bring....


  1. I've completely dropped the bundle on the book club thing! Ah well, I gave it a try, maybe I'll jump back on board with one of the books still to come.

    The Linda Cockburn book sounds interesting, is the title a reference to "The Good Life" TV show?

  2. I'm still on the wait list for the The Zookeeper's Wife, so am yet to read it.

    Am going to pass on the Angelou book because she's not my cup of tea. Hopefully some of the reserves will finally come to me and I can use the month as a catch up, or even to get ahead :)

  3. Interesting that The Zookeepers Wife is such a poor read. The premise & the fact that it is a true story makes it sound like it would be a really fascinating read. Even more interesting is that none of you really liked it. I won't bother to read it after all.

  4. I WAS gonna make cookies... maybe I can buy some and stick them on a pretty plate and pass them off hahaha... jokes. See you soon!

  5. I'm afraid I haven't read the book this month yet- I have it on reserve at the local public library. I am reading one of the Jennifer North books about being a midwife in the slums of the London in the 1950s- and enjoying (if that's the right word for it?)
    I did read 19th wife in the end- pretty good, but I'm happy to get my dose of polygamy watching 'Big Love'. Linda Cockburn has a blog that I follow- she's living in Tasmania these days building a strawbale house - see