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Book Review ~ Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments is the second Rainbow Rowell book that I have read; I finished Eleanor and Park at the end of last year, and I enjoyed it enough that I wanted to check out some of her other work. I’m actually desperate to read Fangirl, having heard such good things about it, but as I can’t get my hands on it at the moment, I borrowed Attachments from the library.

Attachments is set in 1999 and tells the story of Lincoln, a young man who works through the night for a city newspaper, monitoring the emails of the newspaper’s employees. Beth and Jennifer, who work at the newspaper, take full advantage of the fact that they can sit at their desks in separate parts of the building, yet be in constant contact with one another.

The chapters of the book largely alternate between the transcripts of the emails between Beth and Jennifer that Lincoln is able to read, and a third person narrative of Lincoln’s life. The cleverest part of the story is that we are only able to see the emails that Lincoln sees – we only get to know Beth and Jennifer through the emails that happen to have a prohibited word in them. This works particularly well later in the novel when a major event occurs, but we don’t get to know about it as it happens, because Beth and Jennifer aren’t mentioning it in their emails. Lincoln has to fill in the gaps, and so do we.

For me, Attachments takes a while to warm up. Lincoln is really the only character that we have a hope of getting to know, because Beth and Jennifer are filtered through their messages to one another. Lincoln is not an unlikable character, but neither is he a particularly sympathetic character. He is evidently not happy with the way that his life has turned out, and yet he doesn’t really appear to be doing anything about it, and is very much still hung up on an ex-girlfriend who cheated on him. His character does improve as the book continues, as he begins to realise that he is the only one who can change his circumstances.

Overall, I enjoyed Attachments, mainly because I was very much taken with the format of half emails and half narrative; it is a clever way to align the reader with Lincoln, ensuring that we only ever know what he knows. But in terms of the two Rowell books that I have read so far, I would definitely say that I preferred Eleanor and Park, for the simple reason that I felt much more invested in the characters.  

75 Books in 2013

So here we are, on the last day of the year, and as I know I won’t be finishing any books before the end of the day, it’s safe to share my 2013 books without the fear that I am missing any out!

In 2012, I surpassed my aim of 75 books by eight, and I almost upped the challenge for 2013. I am so glad I didn’t, because various factors meant that I actually only just reached 75! I finished the 75th book on 27th December, meeting the challenge with just days to go!

Books 2013 - IBooks 2013 - IIBooks 2013 - IIIBooks 2013 - IV

A few stats:

  • Last year Goodreads told me that I had read just over 30,000 pages. This year’s total was just 22,656. I read quite a few young adult books this year, and they always tend to run a bit shorter, so this isn’t a big surprise.
  • My most-read author was Lee Child. This is a surprise, because it feels like so long ago that I was reading the Jack Reacher books that I can’t believe it was this year! I stopped because I think I just read too many in a short space of time, and I got a little bored. But I’m planning to go back to them soon!
  • 23 of my books were read as part of my A-Z challenge.
  • This year only one of my 75 was a re-read! I have been trying to limit my re-reads in the last two years. I used to re-read a lot, but since I started using the library more regularly, I have so many more books at my disposal, and there just isn’t time to go back to ones I’ve read before!
  • This year I gave seven books five stars (as opposed to eight last year): The House Girl, My Life by David Jason, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Wonder, The Truth About Melody Browne, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Presidents Club.

I’m really pleased that I managed to complete my challenge, but, as with last year, I’m mostly just pleased that I’ve had a year full of reading. Not all the books were great, but the majority of them were, and it’s nice to be able to cross off another challenge. I’m sticking to 75 again next year, and I’m going to try hard not to leave it so late next time!

What was your total in 2013? Do you have any recommendations for me? Please feel free to add me on Goodreads if you have an account, I keep track of all my books on there.

The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel

It’s not often that I do a book review here. I am a part of the team at Hanging on Every Word, and I spend a lot of time on Goodreads (too much time, probably), so most of my reviews go up at either of those places.

But last week I finished a book that I really wanted to post about, and because it’s not strictly a review, I decided to post it here. I heard about The Monuments Men a while ago, when I was looking for new books to add to my to-read list. It tells the true story of a group of people who dedicated themselves to preserving the cultural heritage of the world during World War II. In reality, there were around 350 men and women who served on the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives section (MFAA) of the Allied armed forces, and this book tells the story of eight of them.

I have read a lot about World War II, but it has always been social history, with a bit of military history thrown in. But this is a story that I’ve never heard before; how millions of pieces of artwork were stolen from all across Europe by the Nazis. After D-Day, when the Allies had invaded and were on their way through Germany, the MFAA began to find out where many of the artefacts were being stored, and set about retrieving them.

It really is a fascinating story; whilst reading the book you really start to feel as though you know these soldiers who are risking their lives to safeguard some of the most important cultural treasures of the world. Included throughout are letters from the soldiers to their loved ones at home; one soldier wrote to his wife to tell her that he had refused some gold pieces, because he had “absolutely no greed for it”, and that her “poem means more to me.”

The book came to my attention because I found out that its film adaptation was George Clooney’s next project. He is co-writing, producing and directing the film, as well as starring in it as George Stout, one of the Monuments Men, and my favourite ‘character’ from the book. George Clooney never seems to take anything on half-heartedly, and we all know what a talented writer and director he is (he’s been Oscar nominated for both in the past). And this is truly a thrilling and interesting story. So I’m really, really looking forward to seeing the film. It also stars Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville and Jean DuJardin. They have been filming in Europe, and have just recently arrived in England to film some scenes here. Yesterday, they were filming in Rye, and they have apparently taken over some 85 rooms at Pontins in Camber Sands. I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating this is; I was right near there on holiday just a couple of weeks ago! I want to go back!

83 Books in 2012

As you probably know, at the beginning of 2012 I set myself the challenge of reading 75 books. I had managed 70 in 2011, so I knew it was possible, and I’ve pleased to say that I managed 83!

I wanted to do a collage of all my reads, but there were too many for just one collage, so I had to break it up a little bit! This is what 83 books looks like:

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July - Sept PNG

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A few stats:

  • Goodreads tells me that I read 29,339 pages in 2012. I am not sure how accurate that is, because I didn’t necessarily read the same editions as they have on there, but it’s more or less right. Maybe I’ll aim for 30.000 next year! 
  • My most read author was George R.R. Martin. I read all seven of the as yet published books in the Song of Ice and Fire series, starting with A Game of Thrones in May and ending with A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast in October.
  • I also read six books by Sophie Hannah, four by Nora Roberts, four by Lynda la Plante, and four by Judy Blume.
  • As well as the Song of Ice and Fire series, I also read the Bride Quartet (Nora Roberts), and the Millennium trilogy (Stieg Larsson).
  • I got an eReader for my birthday in November, and my first eBook was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’ve read four more since then, all of them in the last three days!
  • Only two of my books this year were rereads (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Nippy), compared to 17 in 2011!
  • I gave eight books five stars out of five on Goodreads: The Hunger GamesThe Girl With the Dragon TattooBossypantsThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest11-22-63A Storm of Swords: Blood and GoldI Remember Nothing and Other Reflections, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I’m really pleased with myself; I like being able to say I’ve completed a challenge, but also I’m just really glad that I’ve done lots of reading again this year. My goal for next year is 75 again, so stay tuned!

Looking for Books

Books are a big part of my life. I sometimes think that if I was forced to pick one form of entertainment, I’d pick books. Then I remember how much I love television, and I thank my lucky stars that nobody is ever going to force me to make such an awful choice. But I love books, and reading, and libraries, and I love hearing about new books that I should read. My favourite way to discover  a new book is to have it recommended to me, and that’s where my lovely readers come in!

As part of my 31 Before 31 list, I have set myself an alphabetical challenge. Every time I try to describe I fall over myself with too many words, but I’ll try again. I want to read 26 books, each one by a different author that I have never read before, and each author has to begin with a different letter of the alphabet. Since my birthday, I have managed two; Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman, and Killing Floor by Lee Child. You can see my list here, I’m keeping it updated as I go along.

So earlier on Twitter, I asked if anyone had read any good books recently that they would like to recommend, and I got a few replies (thanks to Steph, Jacquina and Laura). I am hoping that if I repeat the request on here, I might get a wider response.

The challenge with the A-Z challenge is, of course, those awkward letters. I don’t suppose I’ll have any trouble with most of the alphabet, but I anticipate problems with I, Q, U, X, Y and Z. I’ve never read anything by Kazuo Ishiguro or Christopher Isherwood, so they are a definite possibility for I, and there’s Markus Zuzak for Z.

Have you got any ideas? For any of the letters, really, but specifically for those six blighters that are more than likely going to stand in my way! Leave me a comment, or tweet me @janeylambert to let me know.

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