Nicole stumbles at the first hurdle

I have a confession to make: I didn’t finish the first book I chose for my Book Bingo Challenge. This is rather embarrassing, because Book Bingo was my idea to start with; also, it was a book I was so sure I wanted to read.

The book in question was my choice for the tricky ‘no genre label’ square of our bingo board: Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson. I’d thought I’d get that square out of the way early. A lack of genre label on a library book usually denotes a book that defies easy catagorisation – contemporary fiction, for example. Something a bit out of the ordinary.

Shylock is My Name is part of a new series of fiction by different authors, called Hogarth Shakespeare. In each book, the author takes a Shakespeare play and transposes it to modern life. Earlier this year I read Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler – in her version of The Taming of the Shrew, Kate is a kindergarten teacher talked into helping her father’s lab assistant get his Green Card. I’ve also read Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time – this book turns Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tales into the story of a wealthy London businessman who abandons his baby daughter in a re-imagined New Orleans.

I loved both Vinegar Girl and The Gap of Time. In fact, I’m a big fan of pretty much any sort of revamped Shakespeare – The Candle Wasters‘ high school webseries of Much Ado About Nothing, the Ugly Shakespeare theatre group, The Leonardo Di Caprio version of Romeo + Juliet, that one episode of Doctor Who with the witch-aliens… you get the picture. So, you can see why I was expecting Shylock is My Name to be right up my alley.

But I just… wasn’t feeling it. It took me all evening to wade through the first chapter, and I still wasn’t 100% sure what was happening.

How do you pull the plug on a book? I left it until just before it was due back at the library, and concluded that if I’d only picked it up once in the three weeks I’d had it, it probably wasn’t worth renewing. So back to the library it went; hopefully on to someone who’ll appreciate it more. Who knows; maybe I’ll try it again in six months and have a totally different experience!

Have you ever given up on a book you thought you’d enjoy reading? Tell us about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.



Rochelle reads a romance!

Book genre two for the Book Bingo reading challenge was a romance novel – something I wasn’t looking forward to.  I was going to go with someone like Danielle Steel or Nicholas Sparks, someone well known, but then decided to  randomly pick a book from our display stand and that’s how I came to read ‘The Dress’ by Jane Rosen.

I went into reading this book knowing it was probably going to be light and fluffy and that’s exactly what it was but I did find myself kind of enjoying it, especially the first half of the book, by the second half it was getting a little too cheesy for me and typically ended with all the main characters getting their fairy tale ending.

This book follows the lives of nine women touched by the magic of one little black dress.  From the young runway model who first modelled the dress to the middle-aged assistant  who’d secretly been in love with her boss for many years and who is now recently widowed.  This book is rich with characters from all walks of life.

The Dress by Jane Rosen is available from Thames Library. You can reserve it for $1 via our online catalogue here. You might also be interested in The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis.



Rochelle reads Whanau, by Witi Ihimaera

My first book in the Book Bingo Challenge called for a fiction written by a New Zealand author.  I’ve read, albeit years ago, ‘The Bone People’ by Keri Hulme and the odd Alan Duff book etc but books written by New Zealand authors aren’t usually something I’d go for.  I initially had intended to read ‘Whale Rider’ but this was already on loan to a borrower, so I settled for ‘Whanau’ by Witi Ihimaera instead – to be honest, what really cinched it was the book is only 174 pages long!

Once I got over having to read a fiction book, pae kare! I actually started to enjoy ‘Whanau’ a story based on the Whanau A Kai of Waituhi village.  It tells the tale of the many characters living in the village and their relationship to it.

Some of the younger members of the whanau want to leave it to head to the bright lights of the city and others feel a connection to their whenua.  But when 8 year old Pene goes missing with the Kaumatua of the village, his Nanny Paora, the whole village unites in the search for the pair.

Whanau by Witi Ihimaera is available from Thames Library. You can place it on reserve here.


Nicole is a Library Assistant at Thames Library.

The million dollar question is: what IS Book Bingo? What have we gotten ourselves into?!

Book Bingo is a reading challenged designed to make you consider the genres you normally wouldn’t give a second thought to. How many horror fans do you know who also read romance novels? How about family saga fanatics who regularly pick up a sci-fi? In order to mark off five boxes in a row in Book Bingo, you’ll hopefully have to start reading outside the square. Here’s a copy of the original bingo grid Rochelle and I are using:


Rochelle one-upped me pretty early on by deciding to read ALL of the genres, in order, starting from New Zealand Fiction. I’ll read all of the genres as well, but I’m going to jump all over the board, reading for each square as I find a good book for it.

I’d like to think I already read pretty widely – there are only a couple of squares on the board that have me particularly worried. I’ve already got my pick for ‘no genre label’ ready to go – I’ll be reading Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobsen. Stay tuned!

Rochelle takes on a challenge

Rochelle is one of the friendly faces behind the counter at Thames Library.

I have decided to take on the Book Bingo Reading Challenge.  Why???  Because I’m one of those people who tend to stick to a particular genre. For me its mainly Biographies and Non Fiction, though in saying that I have read the odd fiction which I have enjoyed – some of my favourites being The Song of Ice and Fire series (more commonly known as the Game of Thrones) and The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. And being on the front desk I am often asked for recommendations and unless you like books on drug addiction, the Jewish Holocaust or the Rwandan massacres, I’m often not much help!

I am tackling my Bingo Board in sequence otherwise I know I will leave certain genres to last.  I’m guessing I’m going to struggle through reading a Science Fiction and Fantasy (and if I’m honest, Romance, Western and Dystopia) book so if you have any recommendations with any of these genres feel free to let me know – as long as they’re not those door-stop sized books or I’ll never finish this challenge!!!

So if you’re keen to take on the Book Bingo Challenge along with Nicole, Shannon (yes it’s in print now so you have to do it) and I, come on in and we can print you a copy of the Book Bingo board and get you started.  And I’ll keep you up to date with what I’m reading and give you a review of each book I read for each genre.