Tag Archives: Take a Chance Challenge

Review of the Year 2011- Challenges

The Rory List (ongoing challenege)

This year I have read just 3 books from the Rory List

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Everything is Illuminated

Grimm’s Fairytales

Am hoping to get a few more of these in 2012.

Take a Chance Challenge 2011

I have read 8 books for this challenge. I missed out the What Should I Read Next? choice (number 7) and failed to finish the staff picks book.
I am Number Four- Pittacus Lore
The Siege- Helen Dunmore
The Hare with Amber Eyes- Edmund de Waal
About a Boy- Nick Hornby
The Terrible Privacy Of Maxwell Sim- Jonathan Coe
The Earth Hums in B-Flat- Mari Strachan
The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman

Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge

I read 2 books for this challenge. which gives me Hijami level of participation:

Sputnik Sweetheart

A Wild Sheep Chase

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Filed under general

About a Boy- Nick Hornby

This book was read as part of the Take a Chance Challenge

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Will Lightman is a Peter Pan for the 1990s. At 36, the terminally hip North Londoner is unmarried, hyper-concerned with his coolness quotient, and blithely living off the royalties of his father’s novelty song. Will sees himself as entirely lacking in hidden depths–and he’s proud of it! The only trouble is, his friends are succumbing to responsibilities and children, and he’s increasingly left out in the cold. How can someone brilliantly equipped for meaningless relationships ensure that he’ll continue to meet beautiful Julie Christie-like women and ensure that they’ll throw him over before things get too profound? A brief encounter with a single mother sets Will off on his new career, that of “serial nice guy”. As far as he’s concerned–and remember, concern isn’t his strong suit–he’s the perfect catch for the young mother on the go. After an interlude of sexual bliss, she’ll realize that her child isn’t ready for a man in their life and Will can ride off into the Highgate sunset, where more damsels apparently await. The only catch is that the best way to meet these women is at single-parent get-togethers. In one of Nick Hornby’s many hilarious (and embarrassing) scenes, Will falls into some serious misrepresentation at SPAT (“Single Parents–Alone Together”), passing himself off as a bereft single dad: “There was, he thought, an emotional truth here somewhere, and he could see now that his role-playing had a previously unsuspected artistic element to it. He was acting, yes, but in the noblest, most profound sense of the word.”

What interferes with Will’s career arc, of course, is reality–in the shape of a 12-year-old boy who is in many ways his polar opposite. For Marcus, cool isn’t even a possibility, let alone an issue. For starters, he’s a victim at his new school. Things at home are pretty awful, too, since his musical therapist mother seems increasingly in need of therapy herself. All Marcus can do is cobble together information with a mixture of incomprehension, innocence, self-blame, and unfettered clear sight. As fans of Fever Pitch and High Fidelity already know, Hornby’s insight into laddishness magically combines the serious and the hilarious. About a Boy continues his singular examination of masculine wish-fulfilment and fear. This time, though, the author lets women and children onto the playing field, forcing his feckless hero to leap over an entirely new–and entirely welcome–set of emotional hurdles


I’ve been watching the film About a Boy for years (being somewhat of a Hugh Grant fan it was never an option not to watch it, I’ve even seen the terrible Did you Hear About the Morgans?) and enjoyed it especially as it makes somewhat of a deviation from Hugh Grant’s normal characters. So I had been planning to read About a Boy for quite a long time, it just took me this long to get round to it, and I still may not have was it not for the Take a Chance Challenge prompting me. It’s the only the third book by Nick Hornby I’ve read. The first was The Complete Polysylabbic Spree which probably doesn’t really could as it is non-fiction but the other, High Fidelity, I liked enough to want to read more by him, and About a Boy is one of his more popular novels. I did find it a little difficult not to compare to the film, simply because I know the film well. I was glad to find that seeing the film didn’t spoil the book for me, which is something that often happens when I see the film first. I did find myself picturing Nicholas Hoult when I read about Marcus, but possibly that was just good casting as I didn’t picture Hugh Grant when I read about Will, I terms of changes in plot it pretty much balanced it out, the end of the film is a bit stupid with Hugh Grant saving the day, I much prefer how it was written (highlight for spoiler) with Marcus really coming into his own. I was a little disappointed with the way Marcus met Ellie as it’s one of my favourite points of the film, but that isn’t much of a big deal really. As with High Fidelity I found About a Boy really amusing, I do think it could have been more touching, but I did care about Marcus at least, even if I wasn’t bothered about the other characters. I thought Will was a bit of an idiot but I still grew to like him, or at least the new him. I did prefer High Fidelity, but About a Boy is well worth a read too



Filed under Contempory, Fiction review

The Siege- Helen Dunmore

This book was read as my book recommended by another blogger for the Take A Chance Challenge

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Leningrad, September 1941. German tanks surround the city, imprisoning those who live there. The besieged people of Leningrad face shells, starvation, and the Russian winter. Interweaving two love affairs in two generations, THE SIEGE draws us deep into the Levin’s family struggle to stay alive during this terrible winter. It is a story about war and the wounds it inflicts on people’s lives. It is also a lyrical and deeply moving celebration of love, life and survival.


It’s been quite a long time since I last read a story based around the second world war, seeing as it’s the nearest I get to reading a particular genre it is something I read fairly frequently. I don’t think I’ve read anything set in Russia during this time before (or at least not wholly based in Russia) so I was glad to expand my horizons a little. I must admit just recently I’ve not had much luck with these types of books, often finding myself disappointed, and I was hoping The Siege would be different. However I can’t say I really felt that engaged most of the time. Undoubtedly the writing is good- there is a certain poetry to it, but it does not really feel as though you get under the character’s skin. A lot of the time I found the writing kind of detached. The descriptions of what was going on were very good, I could see what was happening in my mind quite clearly, and at times that made it difficult to read. However I never really got a sense of how the characters felt about what was going on- even when there was a sense of feeling it was described in such a detached way that it felt as much like fact as like feeling. If it was purposeful then I suppose it showed the detachment the characters may crave very clearly but for me it felt like that characters were pretty one dementional. As far as being a war novel it didn’t really feel like a war novel, there was some speak of the enemy but it felt almost as if it could be set anywhere in Soviet Russia during food shortages.

I found the end was very rushed, almost as if Dunmore wasn’t sure how to get to the end so decided just to skip a great chunk of time. Similarly I found that anticipated events, while could have really added emotion were skipped over only to be mentioned later so you know they had happened. I found when it ended a little confusing to, but maybe if I had some prior knowledge of the events of the Leningrad siege I would have known what happened next anyway.

The ending however was kind of poignant and probably the best section emotionally, it sort of made me want to visit St. Petersberg



Filed under Fiction review, Historical

The Take a Chance Challenge 2011

I saw this challenge on eclectic/ecentric and thought it looked like a fun one, especially to find some books I wouldn’t have previously look at. The challenge is hosted by Life with books Titles/options in blue are what I pick

The 2011 Challenges

1: Staff  Member’s Choice: Go to a bookstore or library that has a “Staff Picks” section. Read one of the picks from that section.

2: Loved One’s Choice: Ask a loved one to pick a book for you to read. (If you can convince them to buy it for you, that is even better!)

I Am Number Four- Pittacus Lore. Recommended by my wonderful boyfriend

3: Blogger’s Choice: Find a “Best Books Read” post from a favorite blogger. Read a book from their list.

The Siege- Helen Dunmore recommended by Farm Lane Books

4: Critic’s Choice: Find a “Best of the Year” list from a magazine, newspaper or professional critic. Read a book from their Top 10 list.

The Hare with Amber Eyes- Edmund de Waal is mentioned by more than one writer in The Guardian. (So incidentally is Freedom- Jonathan Franzen but that seems like too obvious a choice)

5: Blurb Book: Find a book that has a blurb on it from another author. Read a book by the author that wrote the blurb.

Nick Hornby- About a Boy (from blurb of One Day- David Nicholls)

6: Book Seer Pick: Go to The Book Seer and follow the instructions there. Read a book from the list it generates for you.

The Terrible Privacy Of Maxwell Sim- Jonathan Coe

7: What Should I Read Next Pick : Go to What Should I Read Next and follow the instructions there. Read a book from the list it generates for you.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay- Michael Chabon

8: Which Book Pick: Go to Which Book and use the software to generate a list of books. Read a book from that list.

The Earth Hums in B-Flat- Mari Strachan

9: LibraryThing Pick: Go to LibraryThing’s Zeitgeist page. Look at the lists for 25 Most Reviewed Books or Top Books and pick a book you’ve never read. Read the book. (Yes … you can click on MORE if you have to.)

The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman

10: Pick A Method: Pick a method for finding a book from the choices listed below (used in previous versions of the challenge).

  • Random Book Selection. Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!)
  • Public Spying. Find someone who is reading a book in public. Find out what book they are reading and then read the same book. Write about it.
  • Random Bestseller. Go to Random.org and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1950 for the min. and 2010 for the max. and then hit generate. Then go to this site and find the year that Random.org generated for you and click on it. Then find the bestseller list for the week that would contain your birthday for that year. Choose one of the bestsellers from the list that comes up, read it and write about it.


Filed under Challenges, general