Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Those Americans and their conspiracies

I thought this was interesting. It's a new book seeking to explain a new theory about what really happened in 1947 at Roswell. I love the Roswell story and I've always been a believer - maybe because I was a die-hard fan of the TV show when I was a teenager. But I also went to Roswell in 2008 and visited the museum, which was very interesting. The thing I found most fascinating was a material that looked like tin foil (or aluminium foil for those Americans who are reading) that was found at the crash site - it was as thin as tin foil, but it was virtually unbendable (if that's a word).
So this book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base, is a new theory that it was not a spacecraft carrying aliens that landed in Roswell that day, but rather a Russian spacecraft with "grotesque, child-size aviators" developed in human experiments by Nazi doctor and war criminal Josef Mengele.

Weird huh?

See the full story here on Stuff

A must-have in my dream home

Much to my partner's horror, who is studying computer software engineering and can't understand why I don't just buy a Kindle or an Ipad instead of spending so much money on buying books which fill up loads of space in the house, our future dream home is going to have a library.

I swear I will never buy electronic books because I love the feel of a book in my hand and the smell of a new book and it's comforting having them around me. If there's anything material I missed while overseas, it was my books. So here are some random bookshelves/libraries that would be amazing to have in my future house.

Monday, May 30, 2011

100 books in 5 years

I’m following the crowd and embarking on the FILL THE GAPS 100 PROJECT. What a fabulous idea! Even though there will be lots of books written and published in the next five years which I’m sure I will want to read, this list is a great way to read those books I’ve been meaning to read for aaaaages. I’m so excited about this list! I just want to quit my job and read for the rest of my life.

Some of them are classics, some recommended by friends, and some are stories which have been made into movies – I just love going right back to the beginning and reading the story that inspired the movie. There’s also a bit of New Zealand fiction scattered in there.

My five year quest begins today: May 30, 2011 and ends on May 30, 2016.

So here is my list (it has it's very own page)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

An Afternoon of Boredom

An Afternoon in Summer

By Kathy Guithe

If you have read Eat Pray Love, by Liz Gilbert, the gripping travel memoir of an American woman who finds herself and so much more when she eats in Italy, prays in India and finds love in Indonesia, An Afternoon in Summer will leave you dissatisfied.

The allure of the cover and the synopsis on the back cover, which harbors hints of Eat Pray Love, is enough to entice a reader to read the book, but once past the first couple of chapters, it starts to get a little repetitive.

An Afternoon in Summer follows an American university professor and single mother who takes a year off, packs up her children and sets up house in Rarotonga.

Being a memoir, you can't really criticize the fact that the book begins on quite a depressing note because everything goes wrong when they arrive in Rarotonga, because that's reality.

I don't blame Kathy for being inspired by Eat Pray Love, if indeed she was. The idea of Eat Pray Love was the author going through a horrible divorce resulting in depression and went to find herself and ended up finding herself and other people and eventually love along the way.

An Afternoon in Summer follows this exact same track but without the witty language and gripping scenarios. Two years after reading Eat Pray Love, a number of things still stick in my mind. Two weeks after reading An Afternoon in Summer, I barely remember a thing, just a mass of adjectives describing sunsets and fruit trees.

Friday, May 27, 2011

First impressions of Jane Austen

I've seen The Jane Austen Book Club, read about Jane Austen's life in various articles, heard about her books, and two years ago, was given two of her books - Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility - for my birthday, and said to a few too many people that I wanted to read all six.

I have just started reading Pride and Prejudice, and boy does it take some concentration. I'm maybe a quarter of the way through the story and while I can certainly see why Jane Austen is so well loved after all these years, she's hard work.

The writing is lovely, so intriguing, and so far away from how we speak today, yet it all carries the same meaning. The interactions people have with each other may be more polite and more structured, but the emotions that come out of pure human nature and our desire for each other have remained unchanged over the centuries.

We still fall for at least one bad boy in our lifetime.

We still play hard to get.

We still get jealous.

We still fall in love. In exactly the same way as we always have.

Hello new followers!

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to welcome my 15 new followers to You May Say I'm a Dreamer. It's amazing what that Book Blogs site can do! I've had a grand total of three followers for the time this blog has been going, and all of a sudden yesterday I get 15 all at once!

So thank you for supporting me and I hope you enjoy the blog. If you have any comments, advice or suggestions on books I should read or things I should post, let me know:)

Sarah xox

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Want this

Super excited for the 20th Anniversary edition of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander! Apparently it's got a faux-leather cover, ribbon bookmark, and extra goodies like timelines and maps. It comes out on July 5th... Off to pre-order my copy!

Can't believe it's 20-years-old... it's nearly as old as me and I first read it when I was 14-years-old. Best book ever. If I can write a book half as good as this (and I plan to), I will be happy:)

Latest purchases

With $70 worth of book vouchers in hand, I popped into Dymocks on the weekend and picked up some books I've been yearning to read for so long. So once I've finished Pride and Prejudice (which is a slow process - never quite realised the hard work it takes to read a Jane Austen novel), I will be moving on to one of these three - The Endless Forest by Sara Donati will probably be first.

The Endless Forest
by Sara Donati

I was first introduced to this series maybe five years ago, when I was struggling to find something as satisfying to read as Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. It proved to be just as fascinating, and sparked an interest in Native Americans.

The series is made up of six books: 1) Into the Wilderness 2) Dawn on a Distant Shore 3) Lake in the Clouds 4) Fire Along the Sky 5) Queen of Swords, and follows the life of Elizabeth and Nathaniel Bonner in the wilderness of 19th Century America.

The Endless Forest is the final book in the sweeping saga, and I for one will be sad to say goodbye to Elizabeth and her brood.

It focuses mostly on returning characters Martha, Callie, Daniel Bonner and Ethan Bonner, and their perpetual adversary, Jemima Southern, the closest thing to a witch the town had ever seen. In 1824, troublemaker Jemima returns to rural Paradise, N.Y., and Bonner men Ethan and Daniel realize the only way to save the property of their friends Callie and Martha is to marry them, arrangements born of necessity that quickly become stronger than anyone expected. Before leaving for good, however, Jemima surprises the people of Paradise by revealing the secrets that they've kept from each other. Donati wraps up nearly every storyline of the huge cast and their individual conflicts.

Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen

NO I'm not reading this book because the movie has just come out. I was told about it three years ago by my American friend Jamie who loves books as much as I do, who I met while working as an art teacher at a Jewish summer camp in Indiana. I have been meaning to read it since she told me about it, but it hasn't been in the bookstores and I didn't really discover the wonders of Amazon until last year. So now that the movie is out, the books have appeared on the shelves.

Jacob Jankowski's parents were killed in an auto accident one week before he was to sit for his veterinary medicine exams at Cornell. He buried his parents, learned that they left him nothing because they had mortgaged everything to pay his tuition, returned to school, went to the exams, and didn't write a single word. He walked out without completing the test and wound up on a circus train. The circus he joins, in Depression-era America, is second-rate at best.

So without giving too much away - and not wanting to know too much about it myself, Water for Elephants tells the story of a young man's life when he runs away to join the circus.

It sounds like a quirky story that's outside the square and will be a refreshing change from the books I normally read.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

 Jamie also recommended this one to me (she actually wrote me a three-page list before I left the states, what a great friend). This one fascinates me because I just love hand written letters and stories set around the 1940's (just quietly, I'm even writing my own story set in the 1940s. Watch this space for the next Great New Zealand Novel)

In 1946, just after World War II, Juliet Ashton, a journalist and author is looking for her next big project when by chance, she receives a letter from a man on Guernsey, the British island that was occupied by the Germans during the war. Gradually she becomes absorbed into the stories and lives of the island's inhabitants

Monday, May 23, 2011

For the love of Nicholas Sparks

Male eyes roll whenever they hear "Oh, I love The Notebook!"
But if you really paid attention guys, you would realise that Nicholas Sparks isn't always about candlelit dinners and rose petals, as I was reminded after watching The Notebook on Saturday night, curled up by the fire.
I had forgotten just how quirky and loveable Allie and Noah were, and fell in love with the story all over again. So I thought I would just remind you, especially those who have lost faith in love, that anything associated with the name Nicholas Sparks will renew your faith.
Although most of his stories have tragic, tear-jerking endings, his ability to tell a love story as it is from beginning to end is among some of the best.
Both the books and the movies have you laughing and crying, sometimes at the same time, and in the end, you wouldn't change a thing.
Love hurts. But would you rather feel the pain of love or spend your life feeling nothing at all?
I personally recommend The Notebook and Dear John as both books and movies. I've also read The Guardian, Nights in Rodanthe, and Message in a Bottle, and I plan to read A Walk to Remember next.

What are your favourites?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Tully Makker is from the wrong side of the tracks and not always easy to like, and I the same goes for the book itself.

Tully by Paullina Simons takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it, sometimes you want to give up on it altogether, but can't put it down.

On the front cover, it says "for anyone who has ever had to choose", and, true to her word Paullina Simons keeps you hanging on until the end, going crazy trying to figure out which direction this young woman's life is going to take.

Will she follow the path of her dear friend Jennifer? Or Julie? Will she follow her lust to the seaside? Or will she realise her life is not so bad after all and stay?

Full of disconcerting twists and turns that throw you off the scent of the last page, Tully is the most stressful book I have ever read.

Tully gives you a good hard look at the intricacies of life and how most of the time, we end up in a place we never expected to.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A poem for Christchurch


Roars and tears, screams and sirens
Image after image, all we can do is watch
It wasn't your time; it was ours.
We were supposed to be the ones who crumbled and cried
But instead it was you and all we can do is watch.
The spineless snake that crawled up from the depths
One you never knew existed
Shattered your lives, your city, your heart.
Stole the spire from the cathedral; ripped out the heart of the city.
We knew our snake well.
He shattered our city in 1855 and 1942.
Wellington, get ready for the big one, they said.
Fill up your water bottles, buy your torches, canned food, batteries.
For you are next.
Instead we turn on the radio, the television, and see the carnage they promised us 304km south.
February 22, 2011, 12.51pm.
Dust clouds hover over the streets like New York City ten years ago.
We are glued to our televisions as we were ten years ago.
The images burn into our minds, never to be forgotten
Like those of the brothers, falling to their deaths.
People running, screaming, crying, shaking.
Bloodied, battered, broken.
Then we scramble to help.
Food, water, people.
We do everything we can, because one day, it might be us.
Our plight is heard around the world.
They offer their prayers, their money, their manpower.
It brings tears to the eyes.
Knowing the compassion of humankind still exists much hatred and violence.
Knowing our tiny country can reach the hearts of the world.
Those poor kiwis, they say.
We love New Zealand, it is paradise, they say.
And then Japan was hit with a wave of destruction
Leaving death and nuclear disaster in its wake
The world's sympathies turned to them.
And now, the people of the garden city slowly pick up their lives
They build a new city, a stronger city that will withstand Mother Nature's violent wrath.
And the capital city lies in wait for its turn.

*Copyright Sarah Hardie 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tatiana and Alexander

I hate to say it, but Diana Gabaldon, you have a little competition.
Those of us who live and breathe books all know the feeling when we find an author whose books are so amazing that it's impossible to find another author who even comes close to their genius and you end up reading that author's books over and over, and sometimes you end up reading chick lit.
I started reading Diana Gabaldon's books when I was fourteen, and now, at 22, I can't even count how many times I've read the seven books in the Outlander series.

While I contemplated branching out to other authors, I had picked up The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons hundreds of times while browsing the bookstores, and finally decided to buy it last year, despite reading no reviews about it.

The Bronze Horseman begins the story of Tatiana, a 17-year-old Russian girl and Alexander, a Red Army soldier with a secret that can, and does, destroy lives, on 22 June, 1941 - the first day of World War Two for Russia.

Tatiana and her family suffer as Hitler's army advances on Leningrad, as the Russian winter closes in, and as the bombs drop and hunger and cold plagues the city, Tatiana and Alexander are drawn to each other in a love that could tear Tatiana's family apart.

Although it's little hard to get into, The Bronze Horseman is mesmerising from beginning to end, and is impossible to put down. The language is deep and detailed, coming from an author who grew up in Leningrad, Russia and emigrated to America in the 70s. She has an amazing understanding of the war, Russia and America and that definitely shows in the depth of her writing.

The pain and suffering Tatiana and Alexander endure through the war is unimaginable to us safe here in the 21st Century, and the power of the human spirit and the will to survive is just incredible.

Book two, The Bridge to Holy Cross (aka Tatiana and Alexander) is heart-wrenching when Tatiana escapes war-torn Leningrad to America, the land of their dreams, pregnant with Alexander's child, believing her husband is dead.

But she can't let him go and something tells her he's still alive, and she finds herself drawn back to Europe in search of the man she loves.

The Summer Garden, the third and final book, sees Tatiana and Alexander struggling to create a new life for them and their son, Anthony, and to let go of the past.

You expect this book to be a "happily ever after" story, but surviving the horror that the war had to offer leaves painful open wounds that they almost don't survive.
But they do, and the ending will leave you smiling after so much pain and sorrow.

Once you get past the first book, the second and third books will consume your life.

Man did I learn a lot. Every Sunday roast with the family concludes with either a debate about rugby or politics, or a history lesson.

I've grown up learning about the wars, but I feel like I learned more about World War Two through Tatiana and Alexander's story than from all the history lessons I've had in my life. Although, I do still appreciate dad's unique take on the wars (salt and pepper shaker soldiers, fork trenches, pea bullets, you get the idea...)

So for those who like a book that cons you into learning something about history, makes you laugh, cry, and reassures you about the enduring power of love, read Tatiana and Alexander's story.

I'm now reading Tully by Paullina Simons due to its glowing reviews, and the first chapter has me hooked. Diana, you're still my favourite, but Paulina sure comes close.

Also, I just found out The Bronze Horseman is being made into a movie for release in 2012!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Love my mummy

My mum is great. She can be stressed out and frazzled a lot of the time like most mothers, but underneath the panic, she has so much to give.
In times of grief and sadness, she's always the one who springs into action. She never mopes, just works out what needs to be done and does it. She's everybody's rock, even when she's having the hardest time.

She is an amazing dressmaker. She used to make most of our clothes when we were kids - oversized polar fleece jumpers (you'll grow into it sweetie) and neon bike shorts made out of left over dancing recital costume fabric, which were so cool at the time, but now make me cringe (mum, what were you thinking?!)

She's also a brilliant teacher - world's worst student, but a great teacher - especially when she taught me to cook, drive, and sew. She's so patient and trusts me entirely with her kitchen, car, and sewing machine.

My best memories of my mum include the awesome birthday cakes she used to make all of us out of the Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book, and the birthday parties she threw us complete with fairy bread and saveloys.

I also remember the time when she took me to get my ears pierced when I was seven, despite dad saying "you're not getting your ears pierced until you're 16!".

And the numerous times when she dressed me and my sister (I was seven, she was one) in the same dresses with matching hats.

And the time when I came back from America after three months away and she pretty much snuck past security as I came down the corridor off the plane and got the first hug while the rest of my family and friends were waiting patiently behind the line.

And the time (January this year) when she jumped off the wharf with me at Eastbourne - it was her idea.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The best books-to-movies

There is nothing worse than reading a book, loving it, then going to see it at the movies and being disapointed because the directors just DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE BOOK!

Even more frustrating is when they change little details unnecessarily, like when they change where a person is from or their age or their hair colour, even though it has no impact on the story.

I loved the three following books, and there is something so satisfying about getting a picture in your head while reading a book, and seeing it played out perfectly on-screen. What are your favourites?

The Time Traveller's Wife
Book: Written by Audrey Niffenger
Movie: Directed by Robert Schwentke
The characters, the setting, the beautiful house in Chicago, the emotion, mirrored the book perfectly. Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana were a perfect Clare and Henry. I have this movie on DVD and watch it all the time. Although some bits were missed, that understandably couldn't be helped, as there were so many little detailed side stories that a two-hour movie simply can't fit in. But that's the glory of the book, you get all those details at your own pace.

Dear John
Book: Written by Nicholas Sparks
Movie: Directed by Lasse Halstrom
The thing I loved about this one was the characters. Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried were exactly what I imagined John and Savannah to be like. Like Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook, the movie has definately done justice to the book, bringing tears to the eyes and warming hearts.

Memoirs of a Geisha
Book: Written by Arthur Golden
Movie: Directed by Rob Marshall
It's been awhile since I read this book or watched this movie, but I still remember both vividly. I have never been to Japan, but what I imagined when I was reading the book, suprisingly, was the same in the movie. The characters were also very well done. If you haven't read Memoirs of a Geisha, I highly recommend it - it must have been about 3-4 years since I read it and it's still on the top lists in some bookstores, so that's got to say something

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

All that we Remember: Hard to forget

All that we Remember
By Zoe Adams

When a young woman loses her memory in a traumatic car accident, she returns to her family home, a gorgeous mansion set high on the cliffs of Napier, to retrieve her memories. Long lost ghosts and family secrets intrude on Aimee's dreams as she is haunted by someone else's memories.

A surprising and reckless journey into the afterlife, All that we Remember is a captivating New Zealand novel.

I can't tell you if the author Zoe Adams is a New Zealander or what inspired her to write the book, as she wishes to remain anonymous.

A slow starter, All that we Remember is a book that impatient readers would give up on quickly, but once past the middle point it gets hard to put down, to the point of staying up until 3am to finish it.

Somewhere around the middle of the story, the cracks start to show and things get a little confusing. There is an "oh my gosh" moment when you think you've figured out the twist, but realize later on that you are wrong. It is not short of twists and will stop you short at the end.