Thursday, 18 December 2008

BTT - Generosity

Do you give books as gifts?

To everyone?

Or only to select people?

How do you feel about receiving books as gifts?


Yes

To people I know who like reading or if I read a particular book that I think someone else will just love. I seem to be quite good a matching people and books, or at least that's what I'm told!

I love getting books as gifts but I really love vouchers!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Yikes!

I have not reviewed a book since September! I am appalled with myself. So some very quick books reviews of my favourites from the last few months.

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Utterly gripping and intense, it drags you into it’s alternative world from the first page and makes everything there completely believable.

I was so tense the whole time I was reading it, seriously I know authors are meant to put their characters through hell and all but Suzanne Collins really does a number on Katniss, it just doesn’t stop for the poor girl.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer

Strange name, excellent book. I wasn't sure about the concept as the whole book is told in letters but I absolutely loved it. It's set in occupied Guernsey during WWII and it really made the period come alive.


The Miracle at Speedy Motors - Alexander McCall Smith

I was getting kind of tired of these books but I think i read too many to close together becasue I liked this one. All AMS trademarks are here and it is a nice gentle tale.



His Dark Materials (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) - Philip Pullman

This was a re-read and I can not say how much I ADORE these books (The Subtle Knife is my very favourite). The world Pullman creates is so rich in detail, his imagination is sweeping and his story telling skills amazing. I love the way he weaves so many big, important ideas into a incredibly exciting page turner. Read them, I guarantee if nothing else you'll want a demon!

More soon!

Favourites - BTT


1. Do you have a favourite author?

I have many but I'll try and narrow it down - Philip Pullman, Kate Atkinson, Nancy Mitford, Jane Austen, Philippa Gregory.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written? and 3. Did you LIKE everything?

Philip Pullman - yes although nothing compares to the His Dark Materials Series

Kate Atkinson - Yes and I love them all

Nancy Mitford - The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate are two of my favourite books of all time but the others I'm not to keen on

Jane Austen - Yes P&P and S&S are my favourites though.

Philippa Gregory - working my way through but so far I really love everything she has done.

4. How about a least favourite author?

I'm really not keen psychological thrillers.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?

I really wanted to like Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield but I just didn't.

For more Booking Through Thursday go here

Thursday, 6 November 2008

BTT - Presents

So, it’s my birthday today. (Please, no applause.) But it’s inspiring today’s question–

What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?”


As a child I loved Judith Kerr's Mog Series and as a teacher I used them a lot in class. So one of my best book presents was when my boyfriend (now my husband) went to London to get me a signed copy of Goodbye Mog, the last book in the series. If you haven't read it, you should it is beautiful, makes me cry when ever I read it and is excellent for explaining he death of animals to children.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

BTT - Coupling

Monica suggested this one:

Got this idea from Literary Feline during her recent contest:

“Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like–sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful. Or maybe that’s just me.”



Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen - do you have to ask?

Claire and Jamie Fraser, Outlander, Diana Gabaldon - everlasting love through the ages - sigh.

Amy and Poe, Secret Society Girl, Diana Peterfreund - I love the chemistry between these two and seriously some of the scenes between them - phew!

Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, His Dark Material, Philip Pullman - first love, thwarted love, it just breaks my heart when these two have to say goodbye.

Macy and Wes, The Truth about Forver, Sarah Dessen - sw-aoon! I love that they get to know each other playing truth, I love that he makes her an angel who can fly, I love the, oh so slow, build up, I just basically love these two.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The Books on my nightstand



The Nightstand


A closer look at the books


Teetering, I really can not add anymore!

Ann and Michael form Books on the Nightstand are hosting a book give away. To enter just post a picture of the books on your nightstand and leave a link. If you haven't already check out their podcast it is great, although my TBR list is growing and growing because of them.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Sunday Salon - Very quick book reviews

I am so behind, I'm catching up by doing one sentence book reviews, harder than it seems!

The Ghost - Robert Harris

A quick, interesting, page turner let down by a anticlimactic ending

I'd tell you I loved you but then I'd have to Kill you - Ally Carter
Cross my heart and hope to spy - Ally Carter

Harry Potter meets Alias, a great concept and a fun read but more character development would be nice, hoping that there will be in the third novel.

The Ivy League Novels - Diana Peterfruend
Secret Society Girl
Under the Rose
Rites of Spring (Break)

A smart, strong, funny, heroine, great supporting characters, a secret society and a romance that is stomach flippingly enjoyable to read about, I loved them!

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova

Oh lord it was long and the characters wrote such detailed letters and nothing really happened and by the end I was completely on Dracula's side and it seemed all he wanted them to do was catalogue his library and ZZZZZZZ

Tales of the City - Armistead Maupin

A nice tale which is sweet and funny and moving and quirky but didn't leave me dying to read book two.

Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Laugh out loud funny, proves we all have a little bit of angel and a little bit of devil inside us and DEATH is one of my favourite characters ever.

Weekly Geeks 16

This weeks Weekly Geeks challenge was to interview a fellow weekly geek about a book they'd just finished. I teamed up with Jackie from Literary Escapism. Below our my answers to her questions about Breaking Dawn and her answers to some general questions about Urban Fantasy (she was impressively up to date with her revoews!)

Meyer has been receiving some backlash over her final Twilight novel because the story hasn’t lived up to the previous three novels. What is your take on the overall story of Breaking Dawn and do you think all the hype for the novel resulted in the reaction from the fans?

I really loved the first three novels; I thought they were magical and I couldn’t put them down. With Breaking Dawn I could quite easily put it down. A lot of the novel seemed pointless and unnecessary to me. Having said that we needed a conclusion to Bella, Edward and Jacob’s story so I’m glad she wrote it, I just wish it had turned out differently.

As to the reaction from fans she was never going to be able to please everyone and I think it got so big that backlash was unavoidable.

The story is told through two different perspectives - Bellas and Jacobs. What are your feelings on how the story was told by the two different voices and do you think it would have worked without Jacob’s point of view?

I think because of the plot twist you had to have Jacob’s point of view it would never have worked if Bella had been narrating. A lot of Jacob’s chapter did feel like padding to me though because Leah’s story never got a satisfactory conclusion. It was interesting to see Bella and Jacob through someone else’s eyes though.

All four novels have been told through either Bella or Jacob, we’ve never really seen into Edwards head and we were suppose to with the release of Midnight Sun. However, since Meyer has put the whole project on a back burner, do you think we really need to hear Edward’s side of the story?

Although I would have read Midnight Sun I don’t think we really need to hear Edward’s side of the story. I think it’s pretty clear from how he behaves and what he says that his view of himself is different to Bella’s view of him. I don’t think we need to be inside his mind to get that.

The series has been criticized for being sexist and very old fashioned. There are even some that are saying that Meyer is using the novels to force her religious beliefs on her readers. Do you agree or disagree with the critics and why?

I hadn’t noticed any religious beliefs a part from the no sex before marriage but I don’t know a lot about Mormonism so I might be missing something. As too the sexist and old-fashioned comments it’s a fantasy, something to get lost in, an escape from real life.

Also I think there were lots of positive aspects to Bella’s character and it was great to see her come in to her own in Breaking Dawn

How would you recommend this series to someone who doesn’t typically read young adult fiction, or anything relating to the supernatural. What other authors would you recommend?

Well Twilight was the book that got me reading YA fiction so I’d say it’s a good one to begin with. Although there are obviously supernatural elements at heart it’s a love story, which becomes a love triangle in New Moon and Eclipse. I don’t think there’s a word for what it becomes in Breaking Dawn!

Other fantastic YA authors are: John Green, E. Lockhart, Sarah Dessen, Diana Peterfreund


My Questions for Jackie.

Who would you recommend fantasy novels too and why? (Hard I know; I guess what more main stream books that I might be aware of are similar?)

Honestly, I would recommend fantasy novels to anyone. The novels have all the same elements as the classics, except there’s an added twist to the characters and the location of the novel. Instead of taking place in 18th century London or modern day America, the stories take place in a realm where anything is possible. Elves, dwarves, vampires, magic users…they all can exist in these stories and just because they use an element of the fantastical, it doesn’t make the stories any less real.

Depending on the time period you like, most true fantasy novels take place in times similar to the Tolkien universe where there’s not that much electricity or technological advances. There may be some, but nothing like you would find in our world. If you’re looking for something a little more familiar, than I would definitely recommend something out of the Urban Fantasy genre. This is a little different from straight Fantasy in the fact that it takes place in contemporary times and the reader should be able to associate with all of the surroundings.

If I wanted to start reading fantasy novels what book would you recommend I begin with?

For some one first getting into the straight fantasy, then I would definitely recommend Maria Snyder’s Study series: Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study. The novels are excellent and for someone unfamiliar with the genre, this is actually a good start as it sort of eases a person in. In the first novel, Poison Study, the main plot and ideas are a familiar enough that the only thing that’s different is the world it takes place in. You really don’t get too involved in the magic aspect until the second novel, Magic Study. If you want to really jump in, then you could also start with any of the Dungeon and Dragon novels by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman. A good novel of theirs to start out with is Dragons of Autumn Twilight. For anyone who likes the Tolkien stories, then they should be able to get behind these as well.

As for an urban fantasy novel, that’s a really hard question to answer because there are so many different types. A lot of it depends on what you feel comfortable starting with. Whenever I try recommend a UF novel to someone, I tend to ask what they like first off. If they like a little comedy in their story, than I would suggest Katie MacAlister’s Aisling Grey series (You Slay Me). A lot of it also depends on what kind of supernatural creature a person wants. For vampires, I would recommend Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series (Guilty Pleasures) or Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series (Halfway to the Grave). For werewolves and shapeshifters, then Keri Arthur’s Riley Jensen series (Full Moon Rising) or Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson series (Moon Called). However, in all honesty, it’s hard for me to recommend just one author. I have a bunch that I love and follow, so if you want my entire list of recommendations, then I would check this out.

Does the fantasy genre obey given rules or do different authors change things to suit their story?

I’m not really sure how to answer this question. The idea of fantasy is that it’s all make believe and nothing is actually true. For some of the straight fantasy novels, i.e. the Dungeon and Dragon novels, then I think there are certain rules that the authors follow. I think a lot of the world building is kept pretty constant with maybe a few changes for the story. Definitely the character types are kept the same. Elves, dwarves, drow, etc, they all have the same characteristics across all different stories, but what they do may change.

As for urban fantasy, everything is completely up to the author. Each author gives their own twist to the modern world, so it’ll be hard to find two authors with similar worlds. I don’t think it’s impossible, but everyone has their own idea on how the supernatural would interact with the humans and that greatly influences their writing. Also, while the idea of vampires and werewolves may be common among the various novels, their attributes can be vastly different. In some novels, the vampires are harmed by sunlight and silver and a lot of the other traditional methods; however, in some novels, none of these are particularly harmful. For instance, in LKH’s novels, the vampires can’t go out in daylight and, in fact, they actually die during the day. Only the really old ones can get up. However, in Jeaniene Frost’s novels, the vampires really have no restrictions. Yeah silver hurts them, but wooden stakes are more of a joke. The same goes with werewolves. One interesting take on werewolves is the Riley Jensen series by Keri Arthur. Instead of werewolves been bitten and changed that way, they are actually born as werewolves and it’s just another race of human. They are still tied to the moon, but it’s more of a time of heat for them instead of being monstrous beasts. Each person gives their own twist to the various mythos and they make it work.

What’s the difference between fantasy and urban fantasy?

There’s a lot of debate going on as to what the difference is, but to me, it’s actually really simple. For anything to be considered urban fantasy, it has to take place in a contemporary time, in a place that I can easily associate with. For example, the Katie MacAlister novels take place in various locations around Europe and the Patricia Briggs series take place in west Washington state. The story takes place within my life time and/or shortly in the future. The idea is that vampires live among us and they want to start taking part in society. Basically, in reality, if vampires came on the news tomorrow and said they were real and they want to be recognized, then we would be living in an urban fantasy novel.

Straight fantasy is, again, more along the lines of the Tolkien universe. Where everything takes place in a different world than what we’re used to and it’s more fantastical. I hope that makes sense.

Taken purely on the covers these books look to me like they race along with lots of action but maybe not so much complexity or descriptive writing. Is this true or am I judging unfairly? Is the writing good or do you mainly read them for the story?

If the writing wasn’t good, then the story really wouldn’t be good either. When you get into the fantasy genre, then there is a ton of descriptive writing because the author is introducing you to a whole new world. One that doesn’t exist in reality for the reader. For any story to be good, a person can’t be dumped into the world and expect to know what is going on. Things need to be explained. As for lacking complexity, I don’t think so. Each story goes through the standard story line - introduction, the body, the climax, and the conclusion. Everything that happens is there to build up the tension or the emotion of the reader so that when the final battle begins, they are there rooting for their character. Fantasy is entirely meant for entertainment and has no connection to reality. Nothing about it is real, so yeah there is going to be action, but that adds to the plot and the situations the characters are thrown into.

In a lot of urban fantasy novels, the main heroine is a kick ass demon hunter or vampire killer or some other tough antagonistic chick. It’s not always true, but that’s the reputation that the genre is getting. For instance, the Anita Blake series focuses around Anita who is a vampire executioner as well as a necromancer. Since her job is to take out the vampires that have broken the laws, then they generally don’t want to see her and she ends up in a fight. So she has to be strong. On the other side, in Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series (another good one - Touch the Dark), the main heroine is a clairvoyant who really hasn’t had to do a lot of fighting and she’s not that strong yet.

Whose your favorite fantasy author and why?

Again, I have so many that it’s hard to say who would be my ultimate favorite. This also changes as I find new authors. The paranormal romance I read was by Linda Lael Miller back in the late 90s. Then a couple of years ago, I found Laurell K Hamilton and was instantly captivated. She’s the one who started my love of the genre. Since her, I’ve gone on the hunt for more novels and new authors so my addiction can be fed. I still love LKH, but one of my favorites at the moment is Jeaniene Frost. Again, if you really want to know all of my favorite authors, then I would check out my recommendation page. Everyone on that list are authors I constantly watch…waiting for something new from them.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

BTT - Other Worlds


Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live?

Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?

What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

(This came to me when reviewing a Jonathan Carroll book - I’m not sure I’d like to live in the worlds of his books.)


Lately I seem to always answer these questions with the same book! If I could live in any world it would be Lyra's world from Philip Pullman's His Dark materials because I would love to know what my daemon looked like.

*******

As for the story of my life I think I'd go for Sarah Dessen (not Philip Pullman - yeah!), even though I've only read one of her books it touched such a nerve I think I'd trust her to get me.

For more answers go here

Thursday, 31 July 2008

BTT - Endings


I had a couple of people (Readerville and Nithin) leave me suggestions in response to last week’s post on Beginnings, but this one was already on its way! I mean, it was the obvious next question….

What are your favourite final sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its last sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the last line?




Having just finished the third book in Diana Peterfreund's Ivy League series Rites of Spring (Break). I was thrilled with the last line:

"I'm really sick of secrets."

If you've read it you'll know why. If not go read them they're great.

Otherwise I tihnk it is scenes more than the actual last words that stay with me from books, like the last scene in the The Amber Spyglass (broke my heart). Unless, of course, they are so famous I've heard them over and over like Gone with the Wind.






Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Breaking Dawn





Breaking Dawn spoiler in case any of you fans missed it. Only a tiny one I guess to keep the excitement flowing! I know what I'll be doing this weekend!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Strong Female Characters

I was reading Newsweek this weekend and in an article about Anne of Green Gables I read this:


That "Anne" has survived so long—and, with 50 million copies sold, so strong—is a small miracle considering the state of young-adult literature. It's rare to find a best seller with a strong heroine anymore, in large part because, although girls will read books about boys, boys won't go near a girl's book, no matter how cool she is. Even in Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series, the strong, grounded Bella is willing to chuck it all for the love of her vampire boyfriend. "The literary smart girl is still showing up in literature, but she's often the sidekick," says Trinna Frever, an "Anne of Green Gables" scholar.

Now I am new to the world of YA fiction but I can already think of lots of smart, strong girls in fiction.

Lyra in His Dark Materials - she saves the worlds

Frankie in The Disreputable History - infiltrates and takes over a secret boys society

Miranda in Life as we knew it - survives a near apocalypse and saves her family

Suze in The Mediator books - kicks ass, a lot!

Amy in Secret Society Girl - says what she thinks and is not intimidated by a centuries old all male society or anyone (as far as I can tell. so far)

So what do you think does Newsweek know what it's talking about? Can you name more strong female characters in Young Adult fiction?

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Sunday Salon - How to be bad and Weekly Geeks

I am trying to kick my review butt into gear by taking part in Weekly Geeks this week. Becky of Becky's Book Reviews asked me these questions about How to Be Bad?

How did you like How To Be Bad?
Very much
Is it something you'd recommend?
If you like young adult fiction about friendship and finding out who you really are then yes.
Is it a novel or a set of stories?

A novel

Thanks Becky for getting my ball rolling!

How to be bad - E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle.

Rating 5/5

I was undecided about How to be Bad. I love E Lockhart's but hadn't read the other two authors and three authors? I really didn't think they could pull that off. Luckily the nice people at Harper Collins solved my problem and sent me a free copy and I'm so glad they did.

How to be bad follows Jesse, Mel and Vicks when they take off on a Florida road trip one weekend. Each authors writes a chapter from the perspective of a different girl but the story keeps moving forward and it works, really well. I never wanted to skip over chapters to get to my favourite character they were all good, with strong voices.

During the trip the girls change, bond and learn about friendship, trust, God, relationships and growing up. The comments and observations on these topics all feel a natural part of the story and the characters growth, they never feel shoe horned in.

I highly recommend it. It's funny and insightful and will make you want to go on a road trip.

Some favourite quotes:

"But it felt good both getting the anger out-and knowing how much my forgiveness mattered. How much I mattered."

"I wonder if you can know something about yourself and not know it at the same time. I wonder if everyone has secret fears and not just me."

"It's great that you believe so strongly in God but I feel like sometimes you worry about the wrong things, like what's pure and who's a virgin and what the rules are for being Christian or Jewish or whatever . . . isn't it possible that God is bigger than all that?"


If you've reviewed How to be Bad to link below, thanks.

Sunday Salon - The Book Thief

Thanks to Becky of Becky's Book Reviews and Julie of Bookworm for the questions that got me thinking and reviewing The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Did you enjoy The Book Thief?

Yes I absolutely loved it. It is one of my favourite books of 2008. A 5 out of 5.

Did you think it lived up to its hype?

Yes, definitely it is unique and innovative. I've read quite a lot of book about WW2 but nothing like this before. A very fresh angle.

Who would you recommend it to?

It's one of those books that I am running round saying to everyone I know "you MUST read this."

Do you see it more as a YA or an adult book?

I thought this had more of an adult feel than the other YA books I've read. I think that was to do with the style. YA books usually have a very engaging main character. Where as having Death as the narrator removed the reader slightly from Liesel.

Who was your favourite character?

Rudy without a doubt.
I loved all the characters they are vibrant and leap off the page straight into your heart. Liesel, the book thief of the title, her foster parents Hans and Rose Hubermann and Max, the Jew hiding in the basement. Rudy was special though one of those characters I'll remember for a long time.

Were there any parts that made you cry?

Oh yes! I was reading the end flying back to DC and I think my fellow passengers thought I was slightly crazy as I sat sniffling away.

One thing that stood out for me in that book was all the figurative language. What did you think of the writing style?

Four pages into this book I turned to my husband and said "I don't think I am going to like this book, I think it's going to be really pretentious". I found the writing style really difficult at first and then about twenty pages in it just clicked for me and I loved it.

If you've reviews The Book Thief please link in My Linky I'd love to know what you thought.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Beginnings


Suggested by: Nithin

Here’s another idea about memorable first lines from books.

What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!


Great question! I started recording the first lines of books I read this year just out of interest. One of my all times favourite first lines is the very famous -


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Out of the books I've read this year my favourites are:


The day she would try and kill herself, she would realise winter was coming again.
After You'd Gone - Maggie O'farrrel


"Though not, in hindsight, so startling as the misdeeds she would perpetrate when she returned to boarding school as a sophomore, what happened to Frankie Landau-Banks the summer after her freshman year was a shock.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landu-Banks - E.Lockhart


My Mother is a wrench"
Scrambled Eggs at Midnight - Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler


They're all intriguing and instantly make questions form in your head, which is the point of a good first line.




Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Weekly Geeks 12 Questions



I haven't played Weekly Geeks for a while because I've been lazy and busy but as this weeks task should help me catch up with reviews I am in.

Here's what we had to do

1. In your blog, list any books you’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet. If you’re all caught up on reviews, maybe you could try this with whatever book(s) you finish this week. 2. Ask your readers to ask you questions about any of the books they want. In your comments, not in their blogs. Most likely, people who will ask you questions will be people who have read one of the books or know something about it because they want to read it. 3. Later, take whichever questions you like from your comments and use them in a post about each book. I’ll probably turn mine into a sort of interview-review. Link to each blogger next to that blogger’s question(s). 4. Visit other Weekly Geeks and ask them some questions!

These are the books waiting to be reviewed

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

Falling for you - Jill Mansell

How to be bad - E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Rachel's Holiday - Marian Keyes

The Mediator Book (2-6) - Meg Cabot

So ask away.


If you want to join in with Weekly Geeks go sign up at The Hidden Side of the Leaf

Friday, 18 July 2008

New Twilight Trailer






Yes I am obsessed with this movie and no I doubt it will live up to the book but for now I am enjoying the anticipation.

Vacations



Another question inspired by the Bunch of Grapes on Martha’s Vineyard having burned down on the Fourth of July.

Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday?

Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip?

What/Where are they?

I’m still devastated about the Bunch of Grapes, even though I usually only got to visit it once or twice a year–it was such a vital part of my trips to Martha’s Vineyard. Its (hopefully temporary) loss won’t affect my day-to-day book habits, but it was such a wonderful store on one of my favorite places. Stopping there was such a strong tradition, and I’m going to miss it as part of my vacations. But it made me think–I always buy books when I’m away from home. They’re as much of a trip-souvenir as any t-shirt or trinket. Better, even! And it occurs to me that I can’t be the only one of us who does that, huh?


I don't, I tend to take all my books with me, upping the weight of my luggage considerably.

Not really but when I go home I always rush to Waterstone's and Books Etc in London. They aren't any better than Barnes and Noble and Borders they are just familiar. Although they do often do 3 for 2 offers which i think B&N should consider! I also check out Tesco and Asda as they have amazing deals on books.


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

May and June Books

Didn't read much the last two months but what I did read was excellent. Looking for Alaska's first line is my favourite. Lots of information and of course the ominous one hundred and thirty-six days before sub heading.

Life as we knew it - Susan Beth Pfeffer
Lisa is pregnant.

Looking for Alaska - John Green

One hundred thirty-six days before.
The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party.

The truth about forever - Sarah Dessen

Jason was going to Brain camp.
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my head ever since.

Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones

Everyone called him Pop-eye.

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

First the colors.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

The truth about Forever



The Truth about Forever - Sarah Dessen

Rating 5/5

After the death of her father Macy retreats from everything that reminds her of him, including her running, and struggles to be perfect. Then the summer comes and her boyfriend Jason, the one person who makes her feel safe, leaves for Brain camp. Macy is stuck with a job at the library with girls who make her feel far from perfect. Meanwhile her Mom is working herself into the ground to try and forget her own grief. It looks like its going to be a long hard summer.

Then Macy meets the gang at Wish Catering Company, scatty disorganised Delia, fun loving, clothes obsessed Kristy and her silent sister Monica. Bert who is watching out for the end of the world and artistic, swoon worthy Wes. Suddenly the summer starts looking up.

This is a wonderful book Macy's pain and struggle with her grief are so realistically and beautifully portrayed, you really feel for her. The simple story of finding yourself is brought alive by the writing and the interesting, well rounded secondary characters.

The book deals with how we react to loss and pain, how we move on and become stronger or hide from it and grow weak. I liked the contrast between Kristy's reaction to her outward scars, caused by a car accident and Macy's reaction to her inner scars. There is also a contrast between Macy's Mom's grief, she clears out the house of reminders and Delia's grief for her sister, she won't fill in a pot hole because she thinks there's a reason it's there. Kristy and Delia face their pain head on, they incorporate it into their lives and make it part of them so it doesn't destroy them. Macy and her Mom are running from their grief and you can see how unhappy and uptight it makes them.

There is also Wes, possibly one of my favourite characters ever, it's hard not to love a gorgeous, sensitive, bad boy turned good who fashions angels and hearts out of junk. His game of truth with Macy which runs throughout the book is a great device for revealing their past, hopes, fears and dreams. Wes isn't in to perfection, he likes flaws and he shows Macy that being "perfect" isn't something to aspire too.

I devoured this book and the end was perfect without being overly sentimental.

If you've read and reviewed the book please link up with Mr Linky I'd love to read your review.

Sunday Salon - Half Year Favourites and books to review

Books on the nightstand, a blog/podcast I am loving did a post about half year favourites, so I thought I'd copy and do one here. My favourite books of 2008 so far are:

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrel

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Bank - E. Lockhart

The Truth about Forever - Sarah Dessen

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

The Secret History - Donna Tartt

Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones

Twilight - Stephanie Meyer

If I had to pick my absolutely favourite read this year so far I think it would be a tie between Twilight and Esme Lennox.

What have been your favourite books this year, so far?

I've been away on holidays so I have a pile of books to review so check back in the week. I am also whizzing through Meg Cabot's Mediator series and loving it, it is so fast paced and funny.

Have a great Sunday.

Friday, 11 July 2008

What were they thinking?


Yuck! I really hope the person who styled this was NOT involved with the movie as they have obviously never read the book. Edward looks really creepy.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The Mediator - Reviewed

The Mediator - Meg Cabot

4/5

When Suze's Mum gets remarried it means relocating from New York to California, gaining a step father and three step brothers; Sleepy, Doppy and Doc and starting at a new Catholic school.

But none of those things are a big deal compared to Jesse, the very cute ghost haunting Suse's bedroom.

Only Suze can see him, as she is a mediator. A link between the living and the dead charged with helping the recently deceased move on. Suze does this anyway she can even if it means getting physical about it. Although she's not that sure she wants Jesse to move on.

Things get complicated when another ghost arrives in the form of psychotic and murderess Heather who plans to take a few people with her to the next life. With the help of Jesse, her new brothers, Father Dom and friends Cee-cee and Adam, Suze sets out to get rid of Heather and fit in at her new school.

I really loved this book. It was funny and fast paced. Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Stephanie Plum. Suze is a great main character and the supporting cast, particularly gorgeous Jesse and entertaining Adam are engaging too.

It's a series and I already have the next two on order.

Doomsday




One of my favorite bookstores burned down last weekend, and while I only got to visit there while I was on vacation, it made me stop and think.

What would you do if, all of a sudden, your favorite source of books was unavailable?

Whether it’s a local book shop, your town library, or an internet shop … what would you do if, suddenly, they were out of business? Devastatingly, and with no warning? Where would you go for books instead? What would you do? If it was a local business you would try to help out the owners? Would you just calmly start buying from some other store? Visit the library in the next town instead? Would it be devastating? Or just a blip in your reading habit?


I buy most of my books from Amazon after I've wandered round Barnes and Noble and decided what I want.

As both our big businesses I don't think I'd be that upset if they burned down. While I like the B&N I visit for it's location there are several others round the city that I could go to.


I wish I did have a little local bookshop where I knew the people and could talk about purchases and maybe have a coffee but I don't. It seems it's all big impersonal shops round me.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Holidays

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so let’s keep today’s question simple–What are you reading? Anything special? Any particularly juicy summer reading?

I just finished The Book Thief by Markus Suzak which I absolutely loved and I think will stay with me for a long time. Especially Rudy who is one of those characters who just gets in your head.

I'm now reading How to be bad by Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart, and Sarah Mlynowski. So far I really like it. I was a bit worried as with books written by more than one person I always find myself favouring one author and longing for their chapters. So far though, I really like Mel, Jesse and Vicks.

Enjoy your holiday reading and happy 4th July!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

BTT - Flavor




Think about your favorite authors, your favorite books . . . what is it about them that makes you love them above all the other authors you’ve read? The stories? The characters? The way they appear to relish the taste of words on the tongue? The way they’re unafraid to show the nitty-gritty of life? How they sweep you off to a new, distant place? What is it about those books and authors that makes them resonate with you in ways that other, perfectly good books and authors do not?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

A great question and a hard question. Instead of looking at my all times favourite list I thought I'd compare three books that I've read this year and marked as favourites on Goodreads to see if there are any similarities.

Master Pip - Lloyd Jones

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau - Banks - E Lockhart


On the face of it they are pretty different, but at the core they all contain the vital elements that make me love a book: strong characters who are trying to find out about themselves and the world, a great story line, excellent use of words, meaning wonderful quotes about life and love and everything else.

Then there's that special spark which I can't quite put my finger on. There was something about the characters in these books that spoke to me even though their lives were so very different from mine. That magic that some authors have just to grab you at the first word and not let go. It's a gift and a great one.

(if you've read nay of these books let me know what you thought in the comments or a link to your review - thanks.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Mister Pip

Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones


Rating 5/5

This book was mentioned on Books on the Nightstand's podcast, if you haven't listened yet you should. It's really good.

It's set on a tropical Island in the midst of a civil war. Mr Watts the only white person on the island takes over the job of teacher. Great Expectations is the only book he has to share with his class. Through hearing the story the narrator, a young girl named Matilda, finds out about herself and the power of words.

It's a wonderful, clever, thought provoking book. There are horrifying moments but the final message, about the power of words, books and people to transform and save us, is uplifting.

Here are some favourite quotes;

"By the time Mr Watts reached the end of chapter one I felt like I had been spoken to by this boy Pip. This boy who I couldn't see to touch but knew by ear. I had found a new friend.

The surprising thing is where I found him . . . in a book. No one had told us kids to look there for a friend. or that you could slip inside the skin of another. or travel to another place"

Isn't that a great quote? Doesn't it exactly caprture what it feels like to read a book you love?

"As we progressed through the book something happened to me. At some point I felt myself enter the story. I hadn't been assigned a part - nothing like that; I wasn't identifiable on the page, but I was there, I was definitely there. I knew that orphaned white kid and that small, fragile place he squeezed into between his awful sister and lovable Joe Gargary because the same space existed between Mr Watts and my Mum."

It's wonderful when a book speaks to you. When you can see your situation reflected in the pages. Though expressed more clearly and gracefully.


"The sound of my name took me to a place deep inside my head. I already knew that words could take you into a new world, but I didn't know that on the strength of one word spoken for my ears only I would find myself in a room that no one else knew about."

I really loved this book. If you've read it leave a link below I'd love to read your review.



Sunday, 15 June 2008

Sunday Salon - Shocks and Links

I'm nearing the end of Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. I have loved this book so much but something just happened, something so shocking and stomach churning, I had to take a break. I don't know why but I am still amazed by the power words and stories have to upset me. I'm hoping there will be an uplifting resolution, if not I'll have to read a happy book next.

********

The Host, Stephanie Meyer's latest arrived on Friday from Amazon. I ordered it because it is Becky's book club read for July but I don't know if I can keep my hands off it. It's siren call is getting stronger and stronger, I might have to hide it away in a draw.

********

Have you seen What's your story? on the Waterstone's site. They asked authors and the public to write their stories on a postcard. I loved the J K Rowling Harry Potter presequel, always fun to visit old friends. Neil Gaiman's was good too, amausing and clever. My favourite is Lauren Child's I adore her Charlie and Lola books and her style of writing.

*******

Finally I thought this was an interesting post about book trailers. I quite liked the trailer for Run but I'd rather choose my books by the cover and the title and recommendations of course. I do love soundtracks to books though. Many authors seem to be putting up soundtracks to their books on their blogs. Often when I hear a song it reminds me of a book "Look after you" by The Fray makes me think of Twilight and "Summer Skin" by Death Cub for Cutie brings to mind Hideous Kinky. It's interesting to hear what the authors connect to their books.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

WG 7 - The Photo Post



Weekly Geeks is all about Photos, so here we are.


Next week I will be here




Drinking one of these



Reading these




I CANNOT wait.

Weekly Geekers I am loving this week are

Alessandra at Out of the Blue - love that rainbow library she found to share!

and

Nymeth at Things mean lot - how comfy does that cat look ?

The Thirteeth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

Rating 2/5

The Thirteenth Tale is the story of two women biographer and book worm Margaret Lea and world famous, reclusive author Vida Winter. Vida hires Margaret to write her official biography, an event the world has been waiting for as Vida is incredible secretive about her past, telling different tales to a variety of interviews. As her story unravels we learn about Angelfield the house she grew up in, Charlie and Isabelle and their strange and dangerous relationship, the wild twins Adeline and Emmeline, the Missus and the gardener John-the-dig. Margaret's own story is interwoven into Vida's memories.

It sounds the kind of story I should have loved but I just didn't and I know I am in a minority. I found the plot quite dull and the characters on the whole didn't capture my attention, although I would have liked to have known more about Isabelle. The main problem was the lack of a strong narrative voice and no character to really connect to and care about.


Both women are reserved, withdrawn characters who live more through books then in the real world but it was told in the first person so it felt strange for the main character to be so subdued. It reminded me of the House at Riverton but where as I felt a connection to Grace I felt none to Margaret.

There were some lovely quotes about books in it though. They jumped off the page at me and captured exactly how it feels to love reading, like this one;

"Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibres of your clothes, and when you open the new book they are still with you."

The writing kept me going till the end but I could have done with less twist and more emotion.

BTT - Clubbing



A combo of two suggestions by: Heidi and by litlove

Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?

Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

I just recently joined a book group since moving to DC, it is made up of a group of other ex-pat Brits and we try to choose American authors, a mix of old and new. We make suggestions at the end of the session and then vote on the next book. If your suggestion gets chosen you lead the next discussion. It's very democratic!

It's made me read some books I would never have chosen on my own. It means leaving my comfort zone, which is a good thing.

I also took part in Becky's last online bookclub. Which was great as Becky asks really good questions that make you think about what you read.

Reading for a book club effects my reading only in that I note down things that particularly strike me or phrases I like. It's interesting to hear other people's opinions and what they noticed. I do always feel upset if someone hates a book I loved; it's like hearing they hate a good friend.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

WG 5 - Story Telling

I've been super busy, stressed and not reading blogs so I was going to skip straight to this No 7 of Weekly Geeks but I just had to answer this question!

This week’s theme was suggested by Renay. She says, “I thought it would be cool to ask people to talk about other forms of story-telling.”

Good television is story telling at it's best. There are some truly amazing shows with wonderful characterisation and fabulous story arcs that keep you hooked and dying for the next episode. Lost, House, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Heroes, Life on Mars and my personal favourite Battlestar Galactica.

I've heard people dismiss BG as a boys programme about space battles. No, no, no! It is so much more than that.

The first series had the human race all but wiped out, fleeing from the cylons. It gave us clear people to identify with and an enemy to hate. Then it turned everything upside down and raised questions about what it means to be human. Nothing is black and white in BG and everyone is flawed.

Particular Giaus Baltar who is one of my all time favourite characters. He is cowardly, manipulative, self centred and weak but brilliant and compelling and his relationship with Six is wonderful.

Relationships are something that BG handles incredibly well. There are so many confused and fractured and muddled up relationships between friends, lovers, fathers and sons and comrades.

It really is an excellent show and is story telling at it's best. It puts it's damaged, searching characters through all kinds of hell and lets us see what they're made of. Go netflick it for the summer holidays you won't be disappointed.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Page 123

I have been terrible at posting lately. Due to many external factors I just haven't had the time but Valentina tagged me for a nice easy meme so here it is. Hopefully there will be some reviews next week!


Here it goes:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

The book is Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger. I bought it as an emergency book at the airport because I enjoyed the Devil wears Prada. It's about three friends living in new York. It is okay and a nice easy read, which is what I need at the moment.

Page 123
Leigh didn't bother looking at her planner or the calendar she kept open on her computer screen. What did it matter? Henry had made it clear enough, if it worked for Jesse, it worked for her. She took a deep breath and bit down on her thumb hard enough to leave a tooth mark.

I won't tag anyone because I have seen this meme around a lot but if you haven't done it and would like to consider yourself tagged.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Brideshead Revisited



I'm very excited about this, the trailer looks brilliant. Can you tell if it is faithful to the book or not? I can't really remember it at all. I think I'll watch the movie before reading the book and then I'm less likely to be disappointed with the adaptation.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Looking For Alaska - Reviewed

Looking For Alaska - John Green

Rating 5/5

I can't say Looking for Alaska had me at hello but it was pretty close. It was actually page three and this line,

"So this guy," I said, standing in the doorway of the living room. "Francois Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were "I go to seek a Great Perhaps." That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps."

Miles, a sixteen year old from Florida heads off to his Father's old boarding school in hope of finding himself and the great perhaps. Once there he gets rechristened Pudge and meets Chip (The Colonel), Takemi, Lara and Alaska. Most importantly funny, clever, messed up Alaska.

The First chapter is titled One Hundred and thirty Six days Before and subsequent chapters count down. So as Pudge relates his introduction to life at Culver Creek the readers sense of anticipation increases. The closer we get to day Zero the greater the tension and menace.

Green uses Pudge's religion class and own experiences to explore issues of grief, growth, love and forgiveness. At times it feels like we are living though the story with Pudge and at times it feels like he is narrating what happened from a more adult perspective.

I really do think everyone should read this book it's just perfect and I loved the end. It's so hopeful. I didn't see how John Green was going to leave me feeling satisfied after everything that happened but he did.

There is smoking, drinking, swearing and sex but there is in life and even if your aren't partaking you're aware of it. I wasn't offended by anything in it and I thought it was pretty realistic but just a warning in case.

If you have read it I'd love to read your review so link away on Mr Linky. If you haven't run out and buy a copy now!



Sunday Salon - The End of the World

I finished Life as we knew it. I was trying to stick to the schedule on Becky's online reading group but then I got to chapter 14 yesterday and had to keep going. I loved this book, if you like end of the world scenarios then this book is for you. I think it will stay with me for a long time. I like to think in situations like this I would be brave and noble and good but you never know how you will react. I also keep making plans in my head, where would we go? how would we keep warm? find food? It's very thought provoking as well as being a great read.

Becky is hosting an End of the World challenge. I don't think I'm going to sign up as I have too many challenges going on already but some of her recommendation have made it on to my TBR list.

I also finished Looking for Alaska by John Green, which I can not recommend enough. Everyone really should read this book. I'm hoping to have more time this week to write a proper review of it and The Thirteenth Tale.

I'm really nervous to read John Green's new book though as I heard it wasn't as good. I hate being disappointed by second books. Have any of you read it?

Finally, Weekly Geeks is a good one this week. Choose a selection of books about a political or social issue that is important to you. This one needs some thought.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Weekly Geeks 3 - Childhood Revisited

The childhood books that really stand out for me are;

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

Back Home Michelle Magorian

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
.

These three books began my fascination with WW2. I will read anything set round this period, fiction or non-fiction. The main players Churchill, Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini are all fascinating but I really love reading stories about ordinary people living through the war.


The Silver Sword is the tale of Balicki children; Ruth, Edek and Bronia, who are separated form their parents when the Nazis invade Poland. Along with Jan, a boy they befriend, the children struggle to survive in occupied Poland. After the Nazi surrender they travel to Germany hoping to find their parents. The Silver Sword is their talisman; a paper knife in the shape of a sword. I remember being completely enraptured with this book, the ties between the siblings and the fact that children were surviving alone.


When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is the story of Anna, a Jewish school girl, who’s parents have to flee Germany when Hitler comes to power. The story follows them as they move to France and then England trying to escape the Nazis. I remember the themes of being different and wanting to fit in were at the heart of this novel.

Back Home is the story of Rusty who was sent from England to the USA for five years during WW2. Apparently quite a few children were sent when it was feared Britain would be invaded. The story deals with her return and how difficult she finds it to readjust to her family, especially her mother. Again I liked this book because it dealt with the difficulties of growing up and feeling alienated from your home and the people around you.

Michelle Magorian also wrote the wonderful Goodnight Mr Tom which I did read as a child but much preferred when I re-read it a few years ago to a Year Four class. The BBC did a wonderful adaptation with John Thaw.

This was a really interesting post to write and I really want to re-read my childhood favourites now.

For more weekly geeks posts of childhood favourites go here.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Sunday Salon - Looking for Alaska

Just had to drop back in to say I am up to two days after and I adore this book. Everyone should read it, I'm going to be recommending it to everyone I know.

Favourite Quote so far

"There comes a time when we realise that our parents cannot save themselves or save us, that everyone who wades through time eventually gets dragged out to sea by the undertow - that, in short, we are all going."

Sunday Salon - YA and Short Stories

I finally finished The Thirteenth Tale. While it did pick up towards the end I still found it quite dull and I never really cared about any of the characters. Which is a shame as I think it could have been wonderful. I'll try and write a proper review this week.

I've returned to YA fiction. I'm reading Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer as part of Becky's online book group. I'm up to Chapter Four and I am loving it. It's written in diary format by Miranda a 16 year old school girl. An asteroid hits the moon, knocking it off it's axis which causes tsunami's round the world. Pfeffer does a great job of capturing the panic and horror of a disaster.

As I am trying to read the book to the book group schedule, I also started Looking for Alaska by John Green. I'm still in the before part and really loving it. Lots of individual, well drawn characters all searching for something.

Finally I finished How to breathe under water by Julie Orringer. This is the first book of short stories I have read and I adored it. I found Julie Orringer after one of her stories was published in the Washington Post.

She writes so beautifully and I was amazed by how complete each story felt. She deals with growing up and changing and through ordinary situations really captures the pain, envy, fear and joy of that time.

Notes to My sixth grade self, was my favourite, it made a knot form in my stomach it was so powerful, moving and painful to read.

"Do not look at Patricia and Cara as they stick their tongue out at you. ignore Zachary Booth's explicit hand gesture. Forget you weigh sixty-nine pounds; stop wanting breasts so badly. So what if you wear glasses? So what if your skirt is not Calvin Klein? For this one moment you have no hangnails, no bony knees, and there is a secret between you and Eric Cassio. When the others clear the floor, look him square in the eye and share that secret. The secret is, you know he likes to dance."

That's it for this week. I'm off to try and write my Weekly Geeks post about my favourite childhood books.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Weekly Geeks 2 - Linky Love - The Outcome
















I've been super busy this week so I haven't really had time look at people's lists. I do love this idea though, so from now on I'll be adding a Mr Linky (thanks Kristen!) to everything I review so people can link up to me if they want to.

If you want to be a Weeky Geek go here and sign up.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Manuel Labour


Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?


I have one!\. Eats. shoots and leaves by Lynne Truss. Having just finished it I can see I should have many more. My grammar is appalling. I'm now spend ages writing my blog debating about semi colons and comma use.

I used to have a dictionary but it got lost on one of out many moves and we never replaced it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Twilight - The Movie

Becky has the Twilight teaser trailer posted today.

I'm trying not to get too excited. I'm failing miserably because it does look really good. But The Golden Compass looked absolutely wonderful in the trailer and it was so disappointing. I still haven't gotten over them cutting the end!

But I'm really hoping Twilight will be different. I think it will be hard to capture the feeling of the book though.

Also, not completely convinced by Edward.

Linky Love - Weekly Geeks 2









This weeks challenge from Dewey is to add links to other people’s reviews of the same book in your review post.

I love this idea I like reading lots of different reviews of the same book. So in future if you have reviewed a book I review just leave your link in my comments and I'll add you on.

If you see a book in my side bar that you'd like me to link too, leave a comment on this post and I'll add you in.

And if anyone know how I add a Mr lInky to the bottom of my posts it would be lovely of you to tell me. As I have NO idea!

Monday, 5 May 2008

Sunday Salon - Struggling and Sailing


I haven't managed much reading this Sunday as I have been on a weekend sailing course. A lot of fun but hard work, reading about it didn't quite prepare me for doing it!

I have managed a couple of chapters of The Thirteeth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I was really excited about this book. It came highly recommended and had so many good reviews but I am really struggling with it. I love the writing but I'm not really engaged with the characters. It's not so bad that I won't finish but I'm not dying to pick it up either.

It's especially hard to keep going as I got an Amazon delivery of the following;

Life as we know it - Susan Beth Pfeffer

Looking for Alaska - John Green

The Inheritance of Lost - Kiran Desai


All of which are crying out to be started.

Friday, 2 May 2008

April Books

Books (and their first lines) read in April. Lots of young adult this month. Think The Boy Book wins my vote for best opening line. You?

Best cover goes to The disreputable History as I have a weakness for red sealing wax and basset hounds (didn't have the time/inclination to upload the covers though!).

"The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of out situation"


The Secret History - Donna Tatt


"When I was little, my uncle Pete had a necktie with a porcupine painted on it."

Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli


"Though not, in hindsight, so startling as the misdeeds she would perpetrate when she returned to boarding school as a sophomore, what happened to Frankie Landau-Banks the summer after her freshman year was a shock.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landu-Banks - E.Lockhart


"The birth of Simon Arthur Fitzranulp Basset, Earl Clyvedon, was met with great celebration."

The Duke and I - Julia Quinn


"My Mother is a wrench"

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight - Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler


"It was November."

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

"Before anyone reading this thinks to call me a slut-or even just imagines that I am incredibly popular-let me point out that this list included absolutely every single boy I have ever had the slightest little any-kind-of-anything with."


The Boyfriend List - E. Lockhart


The care and ownership of boobs (a subject important to our study of the male humanoid animal because the boobs, if deployed properly, are like giant boy magnets attached to your chest."

The Boy Book - E. Lockhart

Thursday, 1 May 2008

MayDay!


Quick! It’s an emergency! You just got an urgent call about a family emergency and had to rush to the airport with barely time to grab your wallet and your passport. But now, you’re stuck at the airport with nothing to read. What do you do??

And, no, you did NOT have time to grab your bookbag, or the book next to your bed. You were . . . grocery shopping when you got the call and have nothing with you but your wallet and your passport (which you fortuitously brought with you in case they asked for ID in the ethnic food aisle). This is hypothetical, remember….
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!


Oh Horrors! Are you sure I didn't have my current book in my bag? Oh all right then! I guess I would buy an airport book, hoping they had something not too bad in store. Dan Brown has been known to distract me, even if the books are ridiculous! Actually this wouldn't be a problem at Heathrow where they have several proper bookshops now. In Dulles though they just have a few bestsellers on a rack in the snack shop.

I would also buy magazines, which I rarely buy unless I am flying. Aeroplanes equals glossy pages full of how to have a better life in my world. I normally get Glamour and Self.


I'd also get nut bars and lifesavers - two more plane essentials.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Reading through the years

I can't remember where I saw this Meme so sorry for the lack of shout out. It's fun to do though.

20 Years Ago: I had just changed to a new school and I think I was mixing SVH with more classic books. Titles that have stayed with me are The Little Princess, The Silver Sword, Back Home, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Secret Garden.

10 Years Ago: At University so I was reading a lot of text books and I think I had just discovered Jilly Cooper. I remember a long summer spent enjoying the romps of Rupert Campbell-Black. It was also round this time I started reading Historical Fiction beginning with Jean Plaidy.

5 Years Ago: I’d just begun teaching Year One and discovered the pleasure of books for children. Charlie and Lola and Guess how much I love you being particular favourites. For myself I fell in love with The Time Travellers Wife and like everyone else was reading Harry Potter.


3 Years ago: I’d been living in Mexico for a year. I remember taking the Da Vinci Code on holiday and being completely gripped form start to finish. Then thinking about it and realising how irritating it is. The main character is always amazed how few people knew some obscure historical/religious reference, which he then explains.


Last Year: I got married so books of poetry featured highly! Books that stand out are the last Harry Potter Book (HP goes camping), Cloud Atlas and The Dark is Rising. This was also the year I discovered Diana Gabaldon.


This Month: Well I think I have expressed my total love of E. Lockhart’s books here already but in case you missed it; The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and The Boy Book are new favourites.

3 Favourite Reading Locations: the sofa, the bookstore, the bath.

3 Reading habits: I read all the time. I fold down pages when I like a particular phrase or idea and copy it out later. I am tracking my books on Goodreads.


3 Things that distract me: Not a lot actually if I am involved I am oblivious to everything else!

3 Characters I’d love to be: Hermione in Harry Potter, although can I not marry Ron? Frankie Landau-Banks but I really don’t want to be 15 again. Lydia from the Pursuit of Love, although she does die young, so maybe not. So I guess no one I’ll just read about them!

3 Characters I despise: I’m trying to think of any moustache-twirling villains. The Magisterium in His Dark Materials are pretty despicable.

3 Favourite Book Beverages: Cinnamon Dolce Latte, tea, water.

3 Favourite bookmarks: a postcard of a girl with an umbrella, a laminated USA stamp, a little bit of card with happy faces stamped on.


3 Dead Writers I’d love to meet: Jane Austen, Nancy Mitford, Agatha Christie.

3 Alive Writers I’d love to meet: Phillip Pullman, E. Lockhart, Neil Gaiman – although I’d be shy so probably better not.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Weekly Geeks

The first Weekly Geeks challenge from Dewey was to visit the blogs of five other participants and link to them. So here are my five new reads.

Things mean a lot
- A beautiful site and a beautiful review of Winnie the Pooh. From the books in the side bar we have similar tastes too.

Bookworms and tea lovers - yes I am both! I really liked Samantha's blog and she had some great reviews.

The Armenian Odar Reads - lovely, thoughtful reviews and a great tag line, I am a book eater!

A Girl Walks into a Bookstore - Looking at the books in her 50 books challenge I saw many I want to read. I'll be interested to see the reviews.

So many book reviews - I loved her post on why she reads. Also nothing to do with books but she had a post about the new series of Battlestar Galactica, always good to met a fellow fan of this underrated show!

I also have to mention Mrs S who found me. But through her I found this excellent site. Where I got my new header, so thanks Mrs S!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Sunday Salon - YA Book and fun blogs

I've been reading YA books this week, despite being well past the YA age range! I've really been enjoying them though, the ones I have read are well written, thoughtful and funny. I wish I'd had books like this to read as a teenager.

I've been trying to think back to what I was reading during my teenage years. The only good teen author form those days, that comes to mind, is Judy Blume. I do remember my whole class being obsessed with Sweet Valley High and Point Horror but they aren't the kind of books that commented on life and normal teen experiences or made you think at all. On a side note I've been loving reading views of the new updated SVH books, featuring the perfect size four twins, what not size Zero??

In other news I have signed up for Weekly Geeks which looks like it will be lots of fun.

I'm also taking part in Becky's Book Club. During May we will be reading and talking about Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Sounds like a lot of fun and if you want to take part go and sign up here.

Scambled Eggs at Midnight - Reviewed

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight - Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler

Rating 3/5
Part of the YA Challenge


Cal and Eliot both come from eccentric families. Cal's Mum is trying to find herself and moves them from place to place so regularly nowhere ever feels like home. Eliot's Dad runs a religious fat camp - What would Jesus eat?. They are both searching for something and find it in each other.

Told in alternating chapters by Cal and Eliot we get to see both their perspectives on their blossoming relationship. I really enjoyed the book and it had some wonderful descriptions and some quirky characters, which I always enjoy.

I liked the portrayal of first love and the way we bond or fail to bond with our parents. I much preferred Eliot's chapters to Cal's though and would have preferred the whole book to have been from his point of view. Also the ending was very sudden, all the loose ends got nicely tied up.

It is a good read though so I do recommend it. Here are a few favourite quotes:

"for that moment there is no up or down, just the falling, and it's everything I want, everything I have always wanted my whole life . . .And all I want is to let go into it and for it not to be that other kind of falling, the kind that will break five vertebrate in my back and neck or crush me under the weight of my own heart."

"We are quiet but this time it's the dark blue kind, the midnight kind, the sink-in-until-you-lose-yourself kind."

"You don't have to be beautiful to be seen, you just have to be seen as beautiful, by someone, by one person. Mom lost that person when The Dad fell in love with God and the money. She feel in, fell out, and it doesn't matter anymore, because the person you had to catch you at the bottom is no longer there."

The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book - Reviewed

The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book - E Lockhart.

Rating 4/5
Read for The YA Challenge


E Lockhart is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. Her books are funny, insightful and full of great characters.

In The Boyfriend List Ruby (Roo) loses all her friends and becomes a leaper at her school after an unfortunate kissing incident at the spring fling. With the help of her therapist Doctor Z, Ruby works through The Boyfriend List - a list of all the boys she has ever kissed or thought about kissing. The book flashes back to different episodes in Ruby's life and shows how they effected her and lead to her social downfall.

Ruby is a very engaging character, she has a strong voice and is easy to sympathise with. I liked the footnotes at the bottom of the pages too, I didn't find they distracted me from the story and they were very funny.

The Boy Book fast forwards to Ruby's junior year, where she is still a leaper with blue spots but is slowly rebuilding her life and making new friends.

Other characters were more visible and well rounded this time and we see the problems Ruby's friends are facing too. I really liked Noel, I always love characters who are slightly outside the norm.

The book also contains snippets form "The Boy Book". Which Ruby and her friends wrote when they were younger to try and figure out why boys are like they are. As well as being very funny there are some very true observations.

I liked how these books were about friendship, finding yourself, taking charge of your life and being responsible for your actions. Rather than falling dramatically in love, which seems to be a theme in quite a lot of YA books or at least the ones I have read.