Monday, February 7, 2011

Some Books to Share

I recently finished reading my novel from under the Christmas Tree, "The Distant Hours" by Australian author Kate Morton.

"I've lived in this book for the last three days. Every time I've put it down, I've done so with regret; regret that I couldn't read more, regret that the world I'm living in is not the world portrayed in the book. This story appealed to me on so many levels, from taking influences from books such as Jane Eyre, Rebecca and Wuthering Heights to providing drama on such a perfectly, laid out scale.

..and honestly, how can you go wrong with a story centered around a crazy old man and his daughters, with quirky names suchas Persephone, Seraphina and Juniper?

I've struggled with how to write this review and not reveal anything - and it is a struggle because all I want to do is talk about the story. This was not a light, comfort read - but I don't turn to Kate Morton for that sort of read. I picked this tome up.. (and at nearly 700 pages, it's a doozy) expecting an interesting book with well-developed characters. What I got was the following:

- Well developed characters, I particularly loved the evolving relationship between one of the main characters, Edie, and her parents.

- A perfect setting. Morton did a beautiful job of describing the castle - decaying it was.. and I could practically smell the mold, hear the leaves crunching and see the bathing pool as she describes it.

- A haunting mystery. I actually was disappointed about halfway through the book because I knew I had it all figured out. Did I? Well... you tell me once you've read the book.. did YOU?

- The "Chill Factor". I got chills so many times while reading this book I lost count. Also, I didn't sleep the first night with my light off after reading the opening of the book. I get spooked easily.. and this book qualifies as "spooky" - much like Jane Eyre does.

The Distant Hours is, simply put, fantastic. One of the best books I've read this year and my battered ARC can testify to how much handling it has had over the past few days. I liked Kate Morton after The Forgotten Garden, but The Distant Hours has made me a firm fan and I can't wait to see what she writes next."
by Lydia Presley

I found this review and thought I would include it as it sums up exactly how I feel about this wonderful book. It's a big read - it took me a full month to get through it - but it is worth every page. "The Forgotten Garden" is still my favourite of Kate's novels, but this one comes close. ;) And any nearby friends are welcome to borrow my copy if you like!______________________________________
Saraya too had a great month of reading in January. I admit I was a little concerned her reading would slow down once she started attending school, but to my relief it hasn't. Her teacher includes a half hour of quiet independent reading time every afternoon at school, so she gets a good few chapters in then. :) And once home, it isn't long before she has a book in her hands again. In bed at night she gets another half hour to read, and she often reads in bed before rising for the day as well. Plenty of time!
People ask me all the time for book recommendations for their similarly aged children (you guys all know I'm pretty picky!), so I'll share the list of books Saraya read last month. Sorry I didn't include all the authors in my list - just google them or check your local library if you want to track them down.
The Boxcar Children books, numbers 10 and 11
Susan Leads the Way
Ten Girls Who Made History (which she read twice, she loved it! - a great non-fiction book)
Stories For You by Enid Blyton (again, she read this twice)
Stories to Remember (a book of short stories, would be great for boys too)
Raggedy Ann and Andy Treasury
Mary Poppins
The Careless Astronaut (another book of short stories)
Dream Team Mission 1 : Flying Solo
The Adventures of Pip by Enid Blyton
The Thief in the Library
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Understood Betsy (excellent, though very tiny font!)
The Adventures of Pinnochio
Laura Ingalls Christmas Stories
The Enchanted Wood by E Blyton
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (contemporary fiction, amazing book, I had to read it myself it looked SO interesting - it's the journey of a china rabbit)
The Book of Fairies by E Blyton
Tomboy Terry
Children of Cherry Tree Farm by E Blyton
More Adventures on Willow Farm by E Blyton
A doozy of a list, I know!! As you can see, she went on an Enid Blyton spree this month. ;) We found a few in the library she hadn't read, as well as a couple in a second hand book store.
Saraya is doing much better settling at school in the mornings - I am leaving her with her Papa in the morning as he works there in Prep, and he walks her over to her classroom - and she has discovered the School Library. More Enid Blyton than you can poke a stick at!! So that has made her very happy. Her reading level was ascertained last week, and she's on Level 30, the highest level possible (which hasn't exactly surprised me) - but the great thing is this means she gets to chose a lot of her own reading material, and her teacher is really encouraging this aspect of her education.
I'm happy this week. :) We are madly rehearsing and learning lines around here, and there are books and smiling children.......... and well, it's a happy home.
Blessings friends!


Christy said...

Wow that is a doozy of a list for Saraya!! It's given me some great ideas for my eldest - she's very much a bookworm too! I'm very interested to see what level they assess her at in her new school too ;)
I'm going to have to get hold of the Kate Morton book too...if only we had as much time as our children to enjoy literature :D Happy rehearsing Saminda!

sarah in the woods said...

Thanks for the list of books. i'll have to look for some of them for Miah.

AmFriend said...

I will add your book recommendation to my list of must read books. Hopefully it is available at our library. I will definitely let you know what I think about it.

I will also refer back to your list of childrens books for ideas on how to update my nieces bookshelves, as they grow up.


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