Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 30: The End

It seems fitting to end the #blogeverydayofJune exercise the way I started it.  With my reading round up for the month.  I will write my summary post of what I have learned from the exercise tomorrow.

Half broke horses : a true-life novel / Jeannette Walls.
A true-life novel about Lily Casey Smith (the author's grandmother) who at age six helped her father break horses, at age fifteen left home to teach in a frontier town, and later as a wife and mother runs a vast ranch in Arizona where she survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy--but despite a life of hardscrabble drudgery still remains a woman of indomitable spirit.~ from the blurb.
Really enjoyed this one!  Lily Casey Smith was a feisty wee baggage alright.  If you liked Little House on the Prarie as a child then this is the unsanitised grown up version.

Tu / Patricia Grace.
A story about Tu and his brothers, the Maori Battalion and their war. I'm not sure why I have shyed away from reading Grace's work in the past because I found this story quite fulfilling.

Sand in my shoes : war-time diaries of a WAAF / Joan Rice.
Biography of Joan Rice (mother of Tim Rice, the composer/lyricist).This one was good too.  As the foreword mentions, we look back on this time and tend to focus on the huge events of the period.  The diary demonstrates that those involved in those events still had lives that included everyday joys, sorrows and difficulties.

Colditz : the definitive history / Henry Chancellor.
This is the story of the prisoners of Colditz. Using over 50 original interviews, the English, French, Dutch and Polish officers, and their guards describe their experiences in the notorious castle, and their escape across Nazi Germany.~ from the blurb
I always liked reading the escape stories from Colditz so it was interesting to read more in depth about the castle, the prisoners and their captors.  

The white queen / Philippa Gregory.
The first in a stunning new series, The Cousins War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of The War of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this family drama to colourful life through its women, beginning with the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. The White Queen tells the story of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the success of her family, a woman whose two sons become the central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower whose fate remains unknown to this day.~ from the blurb
I started this one and got about a third of the way through and put it down unable to finish which was a shame seeing as I waited so long for it to come in for me!  I enjoy Gregory's stories but couldn't face reading about the disappearance of the 2 boys... even though she probably doesn't kill them off.  I find myself sensitive to bad stuff happening to kids and the story wasn't grabbing me enough to keep going.  I might give it another go later when I'm in a better mood.

Educating boys : helping Kiwi boys to succeed at school / Michael Irwin.
"Educating boys is a comprehensive, practical look at how we educate our boys in New Zealand - what's working and what isn't, from kindergarten right through to secondary school. Michael Irwin has listened to the opinions of the boys themselves and combined these insights with his own experience and the most recent research on helping boys to learn. Full of practical ideas and wisdom, Educating boys is the essential handbook for people who want to help boys succeed at school and in life." -- Back cover.
Found this book quite interesting and confirming of many of my own opinions and reading about boys and education/ society.

The diary of a nobody / George and Weedon Grossmith 
A fictional diary of a clerk (Mr Pooter) originally published in Punch.  Very British, very subtle and rather amusing old chap!

Blogosphere Book Circle Book of the Month

The graveyard book / Neil Gaiman ; illustrated by Dave McKean.
When a baby escapes a murderer intent on killing the entire family, who would have thought it would find safety and security in the local graveyard? Brought up by the resident ghosts, ghouls and spectres, Bod has an eccentric childhood learning about life from the dead. But for Bod there is also the danger of the murderer still looking for him - after all, he is the last remaining member of the family. A stunningly original novel deftly constructed over eight chapters, featuring every second year of Bod's life, from babyhood to adolescence. Will Bod survive to be a man?~ from the blurb.

When I first picked this up I will admit to feeling a bit ambivalent about it.  I'm not a fan of the undead, vampires and the like.  Plus it is a teen fiction book which sometimes can be so full of angst and struggle... so over that.

So I was a little surprised that despite the heart wrenching beginning that I actually found myself being drawn into the story.  Sure, I did have to suspend my disbelief about the dead people but they seemed quite interesting after a while.  I even laughed at some of their personalities.  Bod turns out to be a sweetie and the story is essentially about him coming of age albeit in a rather unusual environment.  The story resolves rather nicely with Bod leaving the cemetary having grown out of his old life and heading into the new.

I liked it.


  1. Anonymous4:08 pm

    Glad you liked "The Graveyard Book" - I'm about to start it!

  2. Well done on the every day posting - you did it!

  3. Ive been meaning to read "the graveyard book" thank you for the review :-)

  4. Fantastic. I'm off to find Diary of a Nobody on our shelves

  5. Anonymous5:17 pm

    The Graveyard Book just won the UK Carnegie Medal - see Award Tragic's post

    I haven't read any of those on that list.....

  6. I love The Graveyard Book, and needless to say I have it in a special slipcase edition, though I don't have the Subterranean Press edition. Ah, temptations.

    Also interested in your review of Colditz, as I have a couple of collections of escape stories by Read, and of course "The Great Escape" by Paul Brickhill. Will have to hunt out that tome I suspect.