Saturday, March 7, 2015

End of an Era

I'm afraid to say that this will be the last post for 'The Oliva Reader'. Fear not, because I have created a new blog 'The Avid Book Reader'! The reason I decided to move to a different blogging platform, was because I was becoming increasingly fed up with how Blogger was working (or in my case, not working!). I'm really excited about the move and looking forward to doing some regular and stress free blogger. I hope you can join me!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

'First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday' s is hosted by 'Bibliophile By The Sea'. Every Tuesday, you share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

This week's opening paragraph comes from 'A Village Affair' by Joanna Trollope: 

'On the day that contracts were exchanged on the house, Alice Jordan put all three children into the car and went to visit it. Natasha made her usual seven-year-old fuss about her seat-belt, and James was crying because he had lost the toy man who rode his toy stunt motorbike, but the baby lay peaceably in his carrycot and was pleased to be joggling gently along while a fascinating pattern of bare branches flickered through the slanting back window of the car on to his round upturned face. Natasha sang 'Ten Green Bottles' to drown James and James amplified his crying to yelling. Alice switched on the car radio and a steady female voice from 'Woman's Hour' explained calmly to her how to examine herself for any sinister lumps. Mud flew up from the winter lanes and made a gritty veil across the windscreen. James stopped yelling abruptly and put his thumb in his mouth.'

Would you read on? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Happy New Year!

Ok, so technically we're already 12 days into 2015, but I've finally got back into blogging after a pretty awful few months, so I'm counting this as a fresh start.

One of the things I said that I would never do, but have done this year is set myself a reading challenge. I've decided that I would like to read 25 books this year, any more is a bonus. I think 25 is a good number, because it's achievable, but still pushes me to read more. In fact over the last few months, I have found reading very therapeutic. No matter where I was or what was going on, I could allow myself a few minutes to read my Kindle; an invention I said I would never have but in fact, found it to be a brilliant thing, and I could escape.

I've carried over one of my reads over from last year 'IT' by Stephen King to count for this year's challenge (not sure if that's cheating!), so I'm now on my second read of 2015 'A Village Affair' by Joanna Trollope. I will post a few thoughts on 'IT' in due course.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a great reading year in 2015 and thank you for sticking with this blog!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

Hello! Apologises for 1. not been around lately 2. If you can't see everything on my blog, I'm having technical issues at the moment!

This week's 'First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday' (hosted by 'Bibliophile by The Sea') is from a book I want to read, 'Oliver Twist' by Charles Dickens. I have read this, but many years ago and I'm also in the mood to read some Dickens:

'Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born: on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, in this stage of the business at all events: the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.'

'Oliver Twist'- Charles Dickens

Would you read on?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Writing and Family

Writing is something that I've loved doing since I was basically able to, but it's something that I feel quite private about. This sounds ludicrous because, after all, writing a novel is meant to be shared with others, but I much prefer to share my writing with people I don't know, rather than those I know the best.

I suppose writing is something that comes from the very depth of myself. So have I have a problem with sharing this with others around me and risk showing what's really going on inside. Does this sound weird? I know that I'm going to have to get over this fear, because if I want to make anything with my writing, I will have to expose this part of who I am.

Do any writers out there feel the same? Do you share your work with family members? Are they supportive or disregard what you do?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

'Cloud Atlas'- David Mitchell

This is a novel which I've put off reviewing. Due to the magnitude of the novel, I wasn't sure if I could do this justice. I'm going to try. THIS MAY CONTAIN SLIGHT SPOILERS!!

'Cloud Atlas' is actually 6 stories in one. They span countries and varying points in time, some in the present, in the past and way into the future. At first they seem unrelated but as you read on, all becomes clear.

Firstly, what is amazing is David Mitchell's ability to deal with genre. I must admit that I enjoyed some of the stories more than others, but I felt like each separate story was authentically written and equally dealt with. I do prefer when he writes in first person though because for me, the stories written in this way were the most vivid. I also thought it was extremely clever, how each story ties in with everything else.

The thing that overall impressed me with this novel, is the fact that as a reader, I felt challenged. The first story stops mid-sentence. At first, this threw me, but the fun of this novel is to try and work out what is happening. It does become apparent, so it's not a totally confusing novel, but by not simply being given a linear plot and all of the information on a plate, I thought that this was an interesting novel to read.

I also thought that the different issues being raised during this book were extremely interesting. There are many ways you can interpret this novel and for me, that could mean that every time you read this, you could take something different from it. If you read a book and you could easily re-read it, this shows the sign
of a great novel.

Lately, I have read many books which entertained me, but left nothing to 'chew on' mentally. 'Cloud Atlas' for me, made a refreshing change. I seriously recommend this book.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

This week's 'First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday' hosted by 'Bibliophile by the Sea', is from my new favourite writer, David Mitchell:

'Miss Kawasemi?' Orito kneels on a stale and sticky futon. 'Can you hear me?'
In the rice paddy beyond the garden, a cacophony of frogs detonates.
Orito dabs the concubine's sweat-drenched face with a damp cloth. 'She's barely spoken,' the maid holds the lamp, 'for hours and hours...'
'Miss Kawasemi, my name's Aibagawa. I'm a midwife. I want to help.'
Kawasemi's eyes flicker open. She manages a frail sigh. Her eyes shut. She is too exhausted, Orito thinks, even to fear dying tonight.'

'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' by David Mitchell.

Would you read on?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday

Last week saw the end of year art exhibition for my art classes. When I first began the classes many years ago, I was nervous about exhibiting my work. However, I've come to really look forward to this event, as it gives me the opportunity to see the varying art works not just from my class, but the other classes that take place each year.

As you can see, there were an array of fantastic art works on display:

This was my contribution, a drawing of an owl which now belongs to my mum:

I actually completed this last year, but it missed the deadline for the exhibition. So, as I have still not completed my drawing of New York this year, I decided to show this drawing.

Many people arrived for the opening night, including the town's mayor and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Sadly my classes finished today for the summer, but I'm already thinking about what I'm going to create in October!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday

I can't believe it's Tuesday already! That must mean another 'First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday' hosted by 'Bibliophile by the Sea'.

This week's first paragraph is from 'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro. Having never seen the film, I only know very little about the plot of this novel but from what I do know, it sounds very interesting.

 Here is the first paragraph:

England, late 1990's

'My name is Kathy H. I'm thirty-one years old, and I've been a carer now for over eleven years. That sounds long enough, I know, but actually they want me to go on for another eight months, until the end of this year. That'll make it almost exactly twelve years. Now I know my being a carer so long isn't necessarily because they think I'm fantastic at what I do. There are some really good carers who've been told to stop after just two or three years. And I can think of one carer at least who went on for all of fourteen years despite being a complete waste of space. So I'm not trying to boast. But then I do know for a fact they've been pleased with my work, and by and large, I have too. My donors have always tended to do much better than expected. Their recovery times have been impressive, and hardly any of them have been classified as 'agitated', even before fourth donation. Okay, maybe I am boasting now. But it means a lot to me, being able to do my work well, especially that bit about my donors staying 'calm'. I've developed a kind of instinct around donors. I know when to hang around and comfort them, when to leave them to themselves; when to listen to everything they have to say, and when just to shrug and tell them to snap out of it.'

Would you continue reading this?

Monday, March 3, 2014

'Finn Family Moomin Troll'- Tove Jansson

When my friend gave me this book for my birthday (we had a random conversation about 'The Moonmins', as you do, and having watched the tv show as a child, I hadn't realised that this was originally a series of books), I was skeptical that as an adult, I wouldn't enjoy this. However, I think this book is suitable for older children or adults.

The idyllic settings and gentle story are a refreshing change from adult fiction and I found this a pleasure to read. Even though this is aimed as children, the writing was poetic and challenging. I actually think that this book is suited to be read a loud, rather than just reading to yourself, so it would be a good bedtime book for children. This book is pure escapism and I love the quirky plot, each chapter can be read as a separate story, as well as a continuing plot. The only criticism would be that the end was a little far fetched and even though this is fantasy, the ending pushed it a little.

At 33, I may be a little old to read 'The Moonmin' novels, but the first novel in the series was a pleasure to read.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Look Who it is!'- Alan Carr

Being a fan of the British comedian Alan Carr, I thought I was going to enjoy this book. I found it readable, but disappointing. Some of the anecdotes during this book were amusing, but I found the almost underlining bitterness and spite Alan Carr felt, was really off putting. During the last half of the book, I almost felt like he was sneering people who have helped his career and his bragging to be very unpleasant. I even found some of the jokes he made about certain members of society to be offensive, whereas in general, I find his humour funny.

Usually when I read a book about the life of someone I admire, I end up feeling more admiration but with this book, I'm starting to dislike Alan Carr.

Do you read autobiographies? Have you changed your opinion (both good and bad) on a well known person, after reading their autobiography?