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February 2012 : Wrap-up

It seems I can’t catch-up with my own reviews and wrap-up.

Yet I feel I need to do so.

It’s been a month of ad-hoc projects and uncertain weather. My boys and I took turn to fall ill in the cold snap. While we expect the weather to move towards warmer temperature one Sunday, I went out with a leather jacket without my scarf in the morning and came back shivering with cold in the afternoon under a blizzard. It is so bizarre, considering that we hardly have blizzard in the middle of the day in England.

I had a productive February reading-wise but had so many books going at one time that at one point I feel as if I’ll never be able to finish any. In the end I finished 5 books this month:

  1. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
  2. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
  3. Banker to the poor by Muhammad Yunus
  4. The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
  5. Pure by Andrew Miller

including the following unfinished pages:

  • 116 pages of Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey
  • 186 pages of I’m feeling lucky – The confessions of Google employee number 59 by Douglas Edwards
  • 236 pages of American Gods by Neil Gaiman

That makes 538 pages of unfinished books read. I may have effectively finished about 7 books!

Anyway it’s just a number. Out of the 5, my favourite of the month are Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and The Girl in Translation. Main criterion that qualifies as favourite was that I breezed through them but the other three were hard-going for me. I keep wishing for them to end!

Purchase of the month

There were so many book sales during the month that I lifted my book buying ban and got some books at a pittance.

From the top to bottom:

The Gift by Hafiz – a collection of Sufi poetry which no doubt will left me confounded.

Chasing the devils – On foor through Africa’s Killing Fields by Tim  Butcher – Read Blood River by same author of his track on road through the Congo river, this one is a on-road track through the most political volatile place on earth Sierra Leone and Liberia. I wouldn’t go where he had gone but I’ll be interested to read what his journey was like.

The Passage by Justin Cronin – requires no introduction, another book to add on my future quest for disaster books!

Through thick and thin by Gok Wan – Gok Wan is a famous image consultant and fashion designer in the UK (not sure if you heard about him over the pond?) but what made him so successful stemmed from his miserable early childhood of obesity. He was bullied and laughed at. If you ever see one of his TV series, aunty Gok (as he is fondly called) specialise in dressing women up from the high street brand, not the luxury brand and one won’t know the difference. With his glue gun and sewing skill he turns the most plain-looking clothes to an evening wear fit for a Versace catwalk. He is that good and a lot of women here love him because he not only dress-up the skinny catwalk model but he dresses-up women of all body shapes, take them shopping and transform them! 😀

My story from brick lane to dragon’s den by James Caan – I am a big fan of the Dragon’s Den UK programme and a greater fan of listening to business men who starts from nothing and became successful. James Caan was one of the investor for Dragon’s Den 2011.

The Family Orchard By Nomi Eve – speaks of a Jewish family migration to Israel. It was the illustration and humour that made me want this.

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulk – It’s Christmas, 2007 and the story follows characters who live in London, a professional footballer, a hedge fund manager, a student led astray by Islamist theory, a lawyer, and tube driver at the circle line, the novel pieces together the complex patterns and crossings of modern urban life … sounds great for a 75p hardback.

Cutting for Stone by Verghesse – I always wanted to read this one since it was first published. For such a big book it’s easier if I own a copy and savour it at my own pace…

The Tenderness of the Wolves by Stef Penney – The particular beautiful cover of this 2011 edition, with beautiful picture of a pack of wolves, made me buy it!

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – I have limited knowledge about the book and I think that’s the best way. I think it has something to do with vampires? 😉

Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan – A post-colonial story about Malaya and an Indian family.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri – I read this before I started the blog and I really want to read it again.

Hello Dubai and Where Underpants come from – both written by Joe Bennett who talks about the world of High-flying Dubai and how and why Chinese made underpants are so cheap.

I forgot to add another two in the pile:

Mao’s last dancer by Li CunXin – There are many Chinese cultural revolution stories (I hope they can start exporting something different to the west soon!) at least this one is a biography of a state ballet dancer who had decided to defect from China. It was made into a movie too.

Murder in Sarakand – a British Ambassador’s controversial defiance of tyranny in the war on terror by Craig Murray – The title says it all doesn’t it? I’d love to read another conspiracy theory…

Have you read any of the above?

March plan

It’s almost spring! Plans? Eerrr… no plan for March. I can’t keep any of my plans at the moment but will endeavour to start reading those classic chunksters on my sidebar to meet first quarter end!

What about you? How are you doing so far in March?

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


9 thoughts on “February 2012 : Wrap-up

  1. my march plans are round the iffp longlist Jov but got few review books need to squeeze in some where ,all the best stu

    Posted by winstonsdad | March 11, 2012, 9:13 pm
    • Stu,
      I have 4 more reviews pending. I totally understand the need to squeeze some reviews in amongst other things that we have to do on a daily basis! Thanks for your comment.

      Posted by JoV | March 11, 2012, 9:18 pm
  2. Congrats on a great month, always hard with so many books on the go isn’t it? Congrats too on all the great new purchases! Cutting for Stone is a favorite of mine.

    Posted by amymckie | March 12, 2012, 1:45 am
  3. I must first agree how the freaky the weather has been over the last week or so, Im surprised I’ve only had sinus pain and not a full out cold. Hope you and your family are all on the mend now.

    I haven’t read any of the books on your new loot piles but must say what I great loot, again! The Passage and The Historian sound very interesting. I’m also rather curious about your Gok Wan read, as let’s face it he is a bit of a legend 🙂

    Posted by jessicabookworm | March 12, 2012, 11:09 am
    • Jessica,
      I am happy to hear another endorsement to say Gok Wan is a legend. I’m not a fashion horse but I still love watching him dressing up women. 😀 Hope your sinus pain goes away…

      Posted by JoV | March 12, 2012, 12:09 pm
  4. I am, as always, amazed by the rate you consume books. I wish I could read half as much as you do!

    So, tell me. How are you doing with your “reading performance index”? I remember seeing trend diagrams from you and etc. Are you going to beat last year’s index judging by … erm … year-to-year target?


    Now, have I just had a glimpse of a boot titled “Where Underpants Come From”?! If you were to ask me, I would say ….

    PS 1. No idea why I can’t use my “usual” email address to post at your site anymore lol. I guess this will go into the moderation queue.

    PS 2. Woah … not even my Gmail … I am running out of email address to provide! I have to create another Hotmail account.

    Posted by Wilfrid | March 16, 2012, 12:19 am

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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