Orange Prize Other

The Orange Prize Project

I love prize winning fiction, so I’ve decided to sign up to another challenge! – The Orange Prize Project . I have read a few of the Orange prize winers already, but there are a lot more buried in my reading pile. Hopefully, by taking part in this challenge, I will be encouraged to move a few of them to the top of the pile!
The ones I have read so far are:

The Outcast, by Sadie Jones

The Accidental, by Ali Smith

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka

Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood

The Hundred Secret Senses, by Amy Tan

The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Groff, which was shortlisted for the prize this year, is top of my reading pile, so I should finish reading it soon.
I look forward reading lots more Orange prize winners over the coming months!


The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga

‘The White Tiger’ won the Booker Prize earlier this year (2008). It is a tale of two very different Indias – Balram is a poor, former teashop employee, who lands a job as a chauffeur to a rich landlord. The differences between the two lives are revealed, as Balram’s aim to become as rich as his employer take shape.

I was interested to see if it could live up to all the hype. Unfortunately it didn’t. The book started off badly, with a letter from Balram, to the Chinese Premier. The informal, chatty tone grated on me, and the letter (which lasted for the majority of the book) seemed and distracted from the real story that was being told. On a positive note, I liked the suspense of how Balram’s crime was gradually revealed to the reader.

The plot was fairly average – nothing stood out as being particularly clever, or insightful. The characters lacked any depth or personalityunrealistic, and as a result I felt no compassion for their situation.

It was a reasonable read, but instantly forgettable. I wouldn’t recommend it, and it’s certainly not worthy of a Booker Prize.

Also reviewed by You’ve Gotta Read This and Mysteries in Paradise

Pulitzer Prize Recommended books

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon



The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay first entered my reading pile as it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001, and I have challenged myself to read all the winners. It quickly got propelled to the top of my reading pile when it came up as a match for A Fine Balance (one of my favourite books) on Storycode (see post below)


The book started off really well, and by page 35 I was so fond of the characters that I had tears in my eyes when they had to say goodbye to each other. This is a very rare event for me, as I don’t often cry when reading. There are perhaps five books that have managed to move me to tears in my entire lifetime, so this just goes to show the power of the writing in this book.


It continued well, and I loved the detail of the magic tricks, and Joe’s escape from Prague in 1939 to his cousin’s flat in America. Then everything went wrong. There were about 200 pages of boring details about life in a comic book office. I completely lost interest in the book, and at one point I nearly gave up on it. I’m really glad that I didn’t though, as the last third of the book was as good as the beginning. The plot was clever, the vivid characters were back and the ending was very satisfying.   


An amazing book, with a long, dull bit in the middle. It could easily have had 9 or 10 stars if the boring bit had been condensed to about 10 pages.


Recommended, as long as you are able to get through a long slow section – it is worth it in the end!


Also reviewed by Sophisticated Dorkiness

Other Uncategorized

Story Code – Website Recommendation

Storycode is an original way to find new books to read. Unlike the majority of other sites that get book recommendations for you, this site does not give you books based on other people’s preferences. Instead it has a more scientific way to find books you’d like. Each book is ‘coded’ based on a large number of characteristics, including number of characters, ease of reading and importance of plot. It then compares all books that have already been coded into the system and comes up with suggestions of similar books to read. I have had great success with it, and read many books that I may otherwise not have come across.


One of my favourite books is Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller. This book isn’t very well known, so wasn’t in the system. I ‘coded’ it myself, which took about 10 – 15 minutes, answering a large number of questions using a sliding scale. When finished it suggested that A Kestrel for a Knave  by Barry Hines was the best match. I have just finished reading it, and loved it. This is about the fifth book, that I have found, and loved using storycode. I cannot recommend this site highly enough!

Recommended books

Kestrel for a Knave – Barry Hines

‘A Kestrel for a Knave’ is set in 1960s Yorkshire. This book manages to pack a lot of emotion and atmosphere into just 150 pages. It tells the heartbreaking story of Billy Casper, who struggles against poverty, bullying and family breakdown. His only respite from this hardship, is training a young kestrel chick. It doesn’t sound like an exciting idea for a plot, but it is the strength of emotion we feel for Billy that makes this book so good.

Some people may struggle with the Yorkshire accent, but having married a Yorkshire man, I thought it was realistic, and added to the atmosphere of the book.

Highly recommended.


Weekly Geeks #26

I have been reading various people’s ‘weekly geeks’ sections for a few weeks, and have always found them interesting. I thought it was time I came out of the woodwork and joined in. This week’s task is to visit 5 other blogs and find something you have in common with each of them. This gives me a great excuse to have a look round more people’s blogs, and hopefully pick up a few hints on great books to read.

Weekly Geek 26

 I picked five sites:

 As I’m new here I had a look round Dewey’s site. We haven’t read many of the same books, but the few we have in common we seem to have the same opinion of. I discovered that we both love Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Wrong Decade is new to ‘weekly geeks’ too, so I thought I’d link to her site to encourage her to keep up the geeking!

Literary Escapism has set up a Facebook group for book related discussions. I’ve done this too, although mine is a reading group for people I know, and not as active as hers.

Book Worm Sarah likes taking photos of her reading piles just like me!

Melody loves reading challenges.On her blog, I found a link to a site listing all the challenges. I found this really useful – thank you!