Monday, 30 April 2012

April Overview/ Month Ahead

Seriously, April is over already? This has been the fastest month yet.  At least it feels that way. It has been a good one though. Despite exams and essays I managed to read a fair few books. I think I mainly thank the readathon for that mind you. So here is the months book list;

1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
3. Empire State - Adam Christopher
4. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
5. Angelmaker - Nick Harkaway
6. The Doctor Will See You Now - Max Pemberton
7. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
8. Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
9. The Grass Is Singing - Doris Lessing
10. Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
11. Revenge of the Tide - Elizabeth Haynes

I very much enjoyed most of these books that I find it difficult to choose a favourite. I sobbed over Me Before You, I laughed through The Doctor Will See You Now and the rest are all up there. It's a hard call. I can tell you my least favourite which was Revenge of the Tide. It was a disappointing read since I enjoyed the authors debut novel so much last year. It was a first though. I don't think I have started off liking a character and ended up really hating her.

Challenge Overview

 Still managing to keep up with this one. It's not really a struggle since I do enjoy my classics. Aprils choice was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I really loved this book. Just a great boys adventure story. I also loved the challenge prompt since it was about book covers and I do love classic book covers. I have decided that May's choice will be Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I am looking forward to this as I have heard so many good things about this author. This will be the first novel I will have read by Virginia Woolf.

 This book for this challenge was another by Mark Twain which was why I picked the classics challenge book. This time it was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the focus was on Tom Sawyer. As much as I love the book I do think Tom is the odd one out the bunch in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Plus if memory serves he was rather annoying. Not so in the book. In the book he is full of mischief and adventure yet lovable. Next up is The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like last month this will be a re-read. I enjoyed it the first time round so I expect to this time. Having to borrow my dad's copy though as mine has went walkies. Since I am still not buying books there will be no pretty covers this time (for some strange reason my dad doesn't care about the pretty).

The Mixing it up challenge's category for April was Modern Fiction. I picked Freedom by Jonathan Franzen because I had heard many wonderful things about the author but had never read anything by him. Am pleased to say I loved the book and found it difficult to put down. I stopped reading another book I was enjoying just so I could concentrate on it. May's category is Graphic Novels. I attempted to read some of these last year and enjoyed them but the genre is still new to me. I am going to read The Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. It was one that I didn't get round to reading when I had graphic novel month last year (actually it was about this time last year).

For the sci fi challenge I once again went with my own choice but mainly because I am trying to get through my tbr pile before I buy any more books. I read Empire State by Adam Christopher which was a great noir story set in a dark and alternative New York. Very atmospheric and I enjoyed it. For May I am again choosing one off my own pile. It's Cities In Flight by James Blish. Part of the sci fi masterworks series. I actually think this one originally belonged to an ex boyfriend (in my defense I am sure he has a few books of mine). It's a classic sci fi again so I am looking forward to it.

No other plans for this month I have been reading A LOT of American and British authors so if I finish my challenges I might hunt out a book from my pile that wasn't written by someone whose first language was English. Unlike other students in my uni who are now off for the summer I have another semester to do which starts next week. Will involve being back on the wards as well as a lot of course work so I don't know how much reading I will get done or how interactive I will be. I may end up resorting to some light reads.

How has your reading month been? Was yours helped by the readathon like mine was? Anyone else on a book buying ban?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a book meme by Sheila of Book Journey. A great way for everyone to share their reading week.

Last week I handed in my last essay for the semester. I expected to get more reading done at the end of the week but that didn't really happen. Fingers crossed this week as I am back on the wards next week for semester 3. I'm excited about that mind you but last time I barely read anything I was so tired. I don't expect it to be much different this time.

This week I read;

Revenge of the Tide by Elizabeth Haynes. Very disappointed with this book. The more I read the more I hated the character.

Just now I am reading;

Possession by A. S. Byatt. A bit of a slow start but really getting into the story and the mystery now. To be fair I hadn't read much of it until last night which has more to do with the slow start than the book.

The Granta Book of the American Short Story Vol2 edited by Richard Ford. I have read a few of the stories now although I am only a small part of the way through the book. I am liking the change in pace from novel to short story. Nothing has really stood out yet but I have enjoyed what I have read.

Next I plan to read;

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. This is for the classics challenge. I am looking forward to this as this will be my first book by Woolf. And yes, this is yet another vintage cover. Look how pretty!

Later on tonight I will do my month round up. Had quite a good reading month this time. Anyone trying anything new this week?

Friday, 27 April 2012

Revenge of the Tide - Elizabeth Haynes

Genevieve is living the dream that she and her father always wanted. She is taking a year out of her hectic life in London to live on a large canal boat and renovate it. After five months and a lot of the work done she decides to have a  party to celebrate figuring it would be a good way to get her London friends and boat friends to get together. All goes well until later that night when she finds the body of her best friend floating in the water next to her boat. She has an inkling as to who did it but can't tell anyone. As more threats appear the man who is supposed to be protecting her is out of touch. She has no choice but to rely on Detective Jim Carling to help her without telling him everything.

Sorry, but I couldn't help make comparisons to her first book Into The Darkest Corner. She uses the same writing techniques so it's hard not to. Basically it's the flashbacks she is using. Like the protagonist in the first book we don't really know that much about Genevieve's past life but the flashbacks reveal it as the plot moves forward. With the first one I didn't particularly like the character in her past but those events changed her and she grew up quite a bit making her someone I liked and felt for. With Genevieve I didn't particularly like her from these flashbacks too but since they went back less than a year the more I learned the more I hated the character. She was selfish, manipulative and willing to do just about anything to get what she wants. Plus she put everyone around her in danger. I went from liking her at the start and enjoying her pet project to thoroughly disliking her by the end. If she had been killed off I wouldn't have been upset about it.

I was intrigued enough by the story line to keep going with it though. It was easy to guess what she was hiding but there must have been something more to it than that. When the truth was finally revealed it was a bit disappointing. I was expecting something more imaginative than what it was. The red herring would have been far more exciting in the end.

If the author hadn't used the exact same techniques I don't think I would have been so quick to compare. I might have been a little less disappointed than I was despite very much liking her first book. However, it doesn't take away the fact that by the end I didn't care what happened to her character. I cared more about the others living on boats and that might have been the main reason I kept going. It won't stop me from reading any other books that she writes in the future but I might be a little less excited about their release.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clarke has just been made redundant after working 6 years at the Buttered Bun. She's 26 and still doesn't know what to do with her life. However, her family is in financial difficulty so she has no choice but to take on the job as carer to a 35 year old quadriplegic man. She has never done any type of caring job before but then she's been hired for her bubbly personality and chattyness. Will Traynor had a very hectic life which he made sure he filled to the full. He was in a high stress job which he loved. Had a great crowd of friends and made sure that he tried everything which meant adventure holidays. One tragic day he is hit by a motorcycle and now he has to rely on everyone else to do things for him. It's not the life he wants and he can't stand thinking of the life he had. In his eyes that leaves only one option. Lou though has other ideas. She has come to care about this man despite their rocky start and is determined to prove to him that life is worth living.

Despite the readathon I stayed up until late on Sunday finishing this one. I was warned that might happen mind you. First of all Louisa doesn't actually come across as 26. She comes across as a lot younger. Possibly because she is doesn't know what to do with her life and is happy just living her small life and not putting herself out there. It's not just that though, it's her way of looking at life too. Sometimes her younger sister seems older than her. It's not a flaw though because I actually liked her. I liked the fact that she was a bright and happy person who always looked on the positive side. I liked all the other characters too. Will is intelligent and despite the way he treats Lou at first he doesn't come across as bitter as what he could have been. The only character I didn't take to was Will's mum but you never really saw her point of view.

I'm not going into the whole debate of euthanasia. It's a touch subject and to be honest I would be here all day. Hat off to Moyes though for tackling the subject and she did it well I thought. She was able to show not just how the individual feels but how it effects those who love them. It did have me in tears mind you. I sobbed for the better part of 80 pages. Been a long time since a book did that to me. Was a pretty sight I'm sure.

Despite the subject it was a fairly easy read and, like I said already, one I couldn't put down. It did have a few pages from different characters points of view and I think I would have liked a little bit more of that but otherwise I very much enjoyed it.

Monday, 23 April 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday is a book meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. It's a great way for everyone to share what they've been reading.

This is really two weeks in one but the first book on my list is the only book from the previous week. The res are from last week. I had a very good week reading wise. My course work is just about done and most of it has been handed in so I have relaxed a bit. Even took a trip to my local library. I haven't been since it relocated and it's all very modern and fancy. I quite like it though and I won't leave it so long before I go back. Also of course there was the readathon which was a lot of fun and most of these finishes are from that. Hope everyone else had a good week too.

Last two weeks I read;

Empire State - Adam Christopher. A great sci fi noir book. I read this for the sci fi challenge. I picked it rather than the group choice as I didn't want to buy more books (trying to be good). Glad I did as I very much enjoyed it.

Angelmaker - Nick Harkaway. Yes, I actually finished this last week. It was so good but it was the hardback edition that was slowing me down. A great story of a clockwork device that could destroy the world, spies and government agencies fighting over it and one poor clockwork repair man caught in the middle. Very different from his first book.

Freedom - Jonathan Franzen. I read this for the mixing it up challenge under the modern fiction category. I had been looking forward to it since seeing so many people raving about it and I had never read this author before. I know that a lot of people had problems with it, particularly the characters, but I loved it. Found it hard to put down.

The Doctor Will See You Now - Max Pemberton. The first of the readathon books. This is the third in a serious of books about Pemberton's time as a junior doctor. I remember describing the first one as similar to scrubs (without the daydreams). This is just as funny but still has a serious note. I liked it all the more because I recognised quite a bit of it.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie. I thought I had two of these waiting for the readathon but no, just this one. Such a good one too. No Hastings but probably my favourite starring Poirot to date.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay. Since everyone raves about the TV series I have been wanting to read the books. I quite enjoyed the first one although it's not the best book I have ever read. I got the impression that we are supposed to like Dexter despite him being a serial killer. I'm afraid to say I didn't. He came across as a little too smug. Haven't completely written off the books or the TV show though as I did still like it.

The Grass Is Singing - Doris Lesson. This was her first book so I am not going to be too harsh on her for not really enjoying it (The Golden Notebook is one of my favourites). I think more than anything it was the wrong choice for the hours I most struggled with. So I am not going to review it as I don't think I would be giving it a fair review.

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes. Still to review it. Ellie warned me that this book kept her up all night reading. Sure enough after a short nap and dinner I picked it up and that was me. Wasn't going back to sleep until I had finished it. I think I sobbed for the entire last 80 pages. I got this from the library and it's on short loan because of it's popularity. With how slow my reading has been I was actually worried about getting it read on time which is why I picked it up yesterday.

Just now I am reading;

The Granta Book of the American Short Story Vol2 - Richard Ford. This is the other book I got from the library. I picked it up because I do like a short story (a new appreciation) and flicking through it I saw a few authors I love in there. Only read the first one and very much liked it.

Revenge of the Tide - Elizabeth Haynes. I have only just started it so can't comment but like her first book.

Next I plan to read;

Possession - A. S. Byatt. I love this cover, good old Vintage - although not one of their classics. I read The Children's Book when it first came out a few years ago and loved it. Have been meaning to read this one ever since. Looking forward to it.

And that's me. I promise that was a one off. Anyone else had their reading week expanded thanks to the readathon?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Farewell Readathon, Farewell

Still getting used to this whole instagram malarky. I must admit I like the effect and I could get addicted to it if it didn't kill my phone battery. We'll see how long it takes before I get bored.

The photo is actually relevant (sort of). This candle was bought especially for the readathon. It's my favourite and when I went to get a new one yesterday it was half price. Otherwise I would not have bought the larger one. I know a wee advert for Yankee candle here but I LOVE them. This one you only need lit for five minutes before your room smells like a packet of sweeties. Great if you like fruity smells. The wee lego man routed me on.

Well, the readathon is over and I have had a four hour nap. Have to admit that I did read for another hour after. Ellie warned me about Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. She wanted to stay up all night reading it and I wanted to keep going. I should have read that one rather than the Doris Lessing.

Anyways, I had loads of fun doing the readathon. My last post says my achievements so not going to go into it again. But I will say a big thank you to everyone who sponsored me. I raised £115 for Crohns and Colitis UK. Not bad considering I was doing it for a bit of fun. It did add to the pressure though of staying awake. I would have had a nap otherwise.

I'm not going to be reviewing The Grass Is Singing by Doris Lessing. I think that's the first book I won't have reviewed here since I became addicted to book blogging. I don't think it would be fair to the book. I didn't really enjoy it but I think it had more to do with the fact that it was the wrong book to choose for this. I did have my doubts when I added it to the pile but I wanted something just a tiny bit heavier in there. Lesson learned. I also read it during the hardest hours so I don't think I was being fair to it. Truth is I think under normal circumstances I would have enjoyed it and probably should have started Me Before You in its place.

I will be doing this again but not sure if I will add the pressure of raising money. If I can I might get more people involved and we could do it as a group, less pressure that way. It may not be an issue though. With course work I may have to limit myself to 12 hours which is fine. I also think that next time I want to take part in more of the mini challenges. I was set on the reading side I think I missed out there.

Hope everyone who took part had lots of fun. I am off to read believe it or not.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Readathon: Post 4

Hour 19 Have to confess it was touch and go there as to whether or not I would stay awake. Got my mojo back although my reading has slowed to a snails pace. Managed just 54 pages of Doris Lessing's The Grass Is Singing. The good news is that I have breached the 1000 page mark. Now at page 1021. Oh, and that was my treat from earlier. Very messy and very tasty.

Hour 21 Just four hours left and I have read 100 pages. I think I am past the worst and will make it to the end now. Not particularly enjoying this book although it's not the worst in the world.

Hour 22 No more reviews. I can't do it any more. My brain is frazzled and it's all I can do to follow the next book. Started reading Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. Wasn't on my original book list because I have read them all, woo hoo! I picked this one because I have heard good things and because it's a library book that only has a two week loan (due to popularity I assume). Only 8 pages in. So far I have read four books and a total of 1180 pages.

Hour 24 And just one last hour left. I honestly didn't think I was going to make it at one point. Here is my questionnaire answers

1. hours 17-19 were the most daunting. At one point I didn't think I was going to manage it.
2. It's all really down to everyone's taste but I think easy reads and short ones are the way to go. The Doris Lessing book was the poorest choice for me. The others I have enjoyed.
3. Liked the readathon just the way it was
4. The cheers worked for me. It was nice that we all kept each other going.
5. I have read a total of four books and possibly one half by the time I get to the end of this hour
6. I read;
The Doctor Will See You Now
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
The Grass Is Singing
7. The Agatha Christie was my favourite
8. Doris Lessing was my least favourite but I did struggle then and it was probably not my best choice.
9 NA
10. Yes, I would like to take part again although I didn't realise how difficult the full 24 hours was. Might not look for sponsorship as then I won't feel guilty if I take a nap (which I didn't this time and I am feeling it).

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

Dexter is a blood splatter specialist working for the Miami police department. His adopted father was a cop and his sister is a cop. A serial killer has begun chopping up prostitutes and dumping them in a particular way. Sister, Debora, is determined to find the killer so that she can finally get that transfer to Homicide she has always wanted. She calls on Dex to help as he seems to have a knack for solving these things. What she doesn't know is why. Dexter is able to put himself so perfectly into the mind of a killer because he is the same. Only his father taught him to go for the bad guys. If he has to kill then kill those who deserve it. This new killer on the seen though is an artist. Dexter can appreciate him and he isn't sure if he wants him to be caught.

I am probably the only person in the world who hasn't seen the tv show. I have heard of it though and knew what it was about. I am one of these sad folk that would rather try out the books first. It may just be the tiredness talking at this point but it annoyed me quite a bit. First of all Dexter doesn't just come across as your cold serial killer. He is supposed to be soulless and dead inside. Instead he comes across as smug and arrogant. There is a very tiny part of him that worries about what his father would have thought. Without that he probably would go ahead and kill everyone. Then there is his sister Deborah who relies so heavily on Dexter to help her. Surely at some point she would have to stand on her two feet? She just doesn't seem to have what it takes to get very far in her chosen career other than ambition. In all honesty she doesn't seem all to bright.

Having said that I did enjoy the story for the most part. It has an interesting premise. I would be tempted to read others in the series but more so watch the tv show. I somehow think they might have done it a tiny bit better (unusual, I know).

Oh, one thing I do recommend. When you are sleep deprived and the only person awake don't read about serial killers. My over active imagination interpreted every creek to be a serial killer coming out to get me.

Readathon: Post 3

Hour 13 Woo hoo! Have reached the halfway point. What I really want is my bed. So I am away to get some badly needed caffeine. Before I go though I have finished two whole books and I am 12 pages into this one. So  at the halfway mark I have read 704 pages. Hope everyone is managing.

Hour 15 Have slowed down and only read 100 pages those last two hours which brings my total up to 804 pages. I have my second wind though. Word to the wise. Don't read books about serial killers at 3am when everyone else is upstairs asleep. Every little creek was a serial killer coming to get me.

Hour 17 Just finished my third book and about to start my third. Far too tired to calculate page numbers just yet.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

Dr Shepperd is the dear friend of Roger Ackroyd. Poor Ackroyd is going through some troubles and as a Doctor and a friend he feels he must hear them out. He confesses to proposing to a woman who refused him as she had murdered her husband and she couldn't take the guilt. It's only after her suicide that Ackroyd discovers that she is being blackmailed and by whom. Before he can tell anyone who the blackmailer is he is murdered himself. Luckily Hercule Poirot is living next door to the good Dr and the niece of Ackroyd convinces him to find out who the murderer is. His stepson is the main suspect but he is in hiding and the niece is convinced of his innocence. Poirot agrees to take on the job and the good Dr takes the place of his old friend Hastings.

I love Agatha Christie. This is the book I was most looking forward to and it didn't let me down in any way. I was a little put out at first that good old Hastings wasn't in this one. His character whilst irritating at first grew on me and amuses me quite a bit. I thought I was going to miss him but he was replaced by the Doctor who just so happened to live next door to Poirot. He wasn't as amusing as Hastings but he still did the job. In fact he was a little brighter than Hastings, truth be told.

Well with out going into detail, as I don't want to spoil it, I guessed one or two of the mysteries involved. You know Christie, she likes all her characters to look guilty and one by one those guilts are explained away. This book is no different. As I said I guessed on or two of them. I did have an inkling early on as to who the murderer might be but I dismissed the idea thinking there was no way. Turns out if I had stuck to this inkling I would have been right. As it was I was completely surprised and it made a fantastic ending. I will say on thing that surprised me though. Poirot gives the murderer a way out which I wasn't expecting. I'm afraid if you want to know more on that though you will have to read it.

This is my second book of the readathon and I have to confess I am beginning to flag a bit. After my next update in 15 minutes I am away to sit in a cool room drinking tea.

Readathon: Post 2

Hour 7 After a small break for dinner (I had Nachos) I finished my first book of 324 pages. I am now 20 pages into my second book The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. Bring it on Poirot! No snacks as I am still full.

Hour 9 I'm 160 pages into The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I love Poirot but somehow this one isn't the same without Hastings. Having said that his current sidekick is a little bit brighter. Haven't taken part in any mini challenges as yet although there are a number of good ones out there. Too busy reading.

Hour 11 270 pages into the book. Read in the bath for a little while. Still enjoying the book.

The Doctor Will See You Now - Max Pemberton

Max Pemberton has finished a year working in the community. He is now about to commence a year back on the wards. The community has made him forget the fast pace of the hospitals and he feels a little out of place having been thrown in the deep end. Thankfully his flatmates, the nurses and secretaries all help to see him through. Now working on a general medical ward and dealing with dementia patients he feels anger when he sees how easily they are mistreated.

This is the third book by Max Pemberton in his career as a doctor. It's from this one that you can definitely see that he has grown. He still gets nervous about unknown procedures and his first day back was rather funny to read (probably not so funny for him). You can see that he is now more confident in his own abilities.

I liked this one more than the middle book. I think part of that is that I recognised a lot of what he talked about from my own studies. A lot of the problems he mentioned in the book such as interpreting illness in dementia patients, being their spokesperson and the health and safety aspects of the wards have all been discussed in class (obviously from a nursing perspective).

It still has that sense of humour though. He is still able to laugh at himself and I love the interaction between himself and the secretaries. I also love the part his flatmates have to play. I hope there will be more of these books to come as I don't think I would get bored of them. A great first choice for the readathon.

Readathon: Post 1

Woo hoo, just half an hour to go. I have my first snack (which is really fruit from my lunch) and my first book all ready to go. Decided to go with the non-fiction first. As light a read as Pemberton's books are I'm not sure non-fiction is the best choice for 1am. Looking forward to it as it has been on my tbr pile for a good few months now.

So I have a glass of diluting juice by my side, along with my phone and iPad, some big comfy cushions and my favourite yankee candle (vanilla lime). I am ready. Just need the time to speed up.

I will basically be updating on the same post until I finish a book. I then review the book and start with a new readathon post. I did it that way last time and it seemed to work. This is also my first attempt at using instagram. Quite like it although not sure I have it worked out completely.

If you don't fancy reading all my posts you can also follow me on twitter as Karencrafts.  I'll also update photo's on my Just Giving page where I am raising money for Crohn's and Colitis UK.

Introductory questionnaire

1. I'm from Scotland.
2. I'm probably most looking forward to the Agatha Christie book as I love Poirot. But also looking forward to having a go with the Dexter series.
3. I probably should say all the fruit I have bought in but the true answer would be the donuts for later on in the night.
4. I used to be a bookseller but I'm now studying for my nursing degree. Actually on exam leave just now and using the readathon as a break. Also a huge sci fi fan and bit of a girly geek.
5. This is my second readathon. Will probably be updating with more photo's than last time. I also have a fruity candle which keeps me awake. Oh, and I am more prepared on the snack front as last time my bread had went all moldy and had to make do with just lots of tea.

Hour 3 Finished the fruit and I did open the Doritos briefly. Have read 106 pages of The Doctor Will See You Now by Max Pemberton. So funny!

Hour 5 Now 228 pages read. Still enjoying it. Starting to get uncomfy though. Going to move to the kitchen for a wee while.

Angelmaker - Nick Harkaway

Joe Spork is trying his best to be like his Grandfather. To live an honest life as a clockwork expert. Sadly clockwork isn't appreciated as it once was and Joe is doing his best to keep on top of things. His friend then gets him to fix an unusual piece of clockwork. A book that fits into another apparatus. By fixing it Joe has inadvertently started off a series of events which leads to everyone hunting him down so they can gain control of the machine. Poor Joe has to rely on his fathers crooked friends to save him. Meanwhile Edie Bannister has some knowledge of the machine and events have brought her out of retirement. She spent most of her life as a spy and now in her twilight years she must once again face her nemesis and save the world.

This is Haraway's second book. Normally I would compare the two having loved the first one so much. This one is so completely different from The Gone-Away World that there was no way I could compare them. The genre and the tone is in no way the same. Impressive I think.

This is just the sort of book I love. It has a lot of tongue in cheek all the way through it. In place of James Bond we have Edie Bannister (who takes on the name James when under cover). I loved the parts as she reflected on her career as a spy. Like James Bond she was a bit of a womaniser and managed to get herself a megalomaniac nemesis. Joe on the other hand was a bit of a drip. He's so unsure of himself. He is trying so hard to be like his grandfather and not his father that he doesn't know who he is. Thankfully he is surrounded by some wonderful characters who make up for it. Plus, he is supposed to be like that until he discovers who he is (which he does and I quite like it).

The crooks are the good guys in this book which is another reason I loved it so much. It's almost like the get more out of creating a little bit of mischief than they do making some money for themselves. I loved the descriptions of the night market where they all get together and how they teach the young ones their trade. It's like they have a society all of their own with its own rules, values and moral code. Since Joe's father was one of them they go out on a limb to help him.

As for the real bad guys. I thought that they were fantastic too. Government agencies, a religious cult and a man determined to destroy the world to meet his own ends. Loved it. Oh, and it had some great dry humour through out too.

Despite not being able to compare it to The Gone-Away World I still think I liked that one just a little bit more. It had quite a sad tone to it and I do love a post-apocalyptic tale.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Freedom - Jonathan Franzen

The Berglunds are the perfect family. Or so it seems to their neighbours who feel that they are maybe too perfect. Behind closed doors that perfection is beginning to deteriorate. Patty is trying to be the perfect wife and mother. Everything she believes her own family lacked. When her son runs off with the girl next door and her daughter seems to disapprove of her Patty begins to think maybe she should have chosen another life for herself. Husband Walter loved Patty from the first day they met. His love though was also a bit of an obsession as he could only see her goodness and none of the failings that make people human. When Patty starts to break down he begins to see that maybe he made his own mistakes and so throws himself into a project that proves to be questionable. Add in to the mix a son who defies him and is determined to believe the complete opposite of him and a best friend he has spent his entire life competing with.

A rather large book which follows one family through their mistakes. A few people have said that the book is about people who are completely unlikeable and so they didn't enjoy it. I have to say that I don't agree. I actually liked the characters, well most of them. I especially liked Patty. All her flaws just made her all the more human as she tried to be the person that Walter thought she was. In all honesty I did like her better as a teenager than I did  when she was a neurotic mother. Walter I liked too although I have to say for someone who is so intelligent how could he not see the problem with his project? I was also a little bored by the constant descriptions of it. Possible a necessary part of the theme but there were times I felt myself skimming over his explanations after having read about it 3 or 4 times already. I even liked his best friend Richard who was selfish and self destructive. Joey is probably the only character I didn't take to. His decision to sell dodgy parts to the army in defiance of his father was deplorable as were the excuses he told himself for doing it. Then his treatment of Connie. I was annoyed at her for not having the back bone to tell him where to go too mind you. Even when he became a good guy again I just didn't like him.

The book dips in and out of the past of all these characters until the moment in time where the book begins. It then moves forward from 2004 to 2007 detailing each of their lives in turn. The point of the book is in the title. Each of the characters is fighting for their freedom but has also given it away. Patty for example, her determination not to be like her mother has meant that she has limited her choices in the future. Joey is fighting against his parents for freedom and has been since a small child. Once he has it he find he can't really break completely away and begins to make mistake after mistake. I could actually sit here all day and write about all the different ways this theme runs through the book. I imagine it would have been a good one to choose if I had still been in school. When an author pointedly makes a theme like that it can come across as a little pretentious I think but this didn't happen here. Instead it tied everything together.

A great book that I found difficult to put down. When I picked it up last week I only meant to look at it as I was determined to finish Angelmaker first. Instead Angelmaker was put aside yet again. If you like large books based round one family and don't mind flawed characters or their constant mistakes then you might like this.

I read this for the modern fiction category of the Mixing It Up challenge hosted by Ellie of Musings of a Bookshop Girl. Like the last one it wasn't really a category I had difficulty with. It was a good excuse to try this author after seeing so many people raving about him last year. Definitely an author I will read again. Next months category is Graphic Novels and I already have that one picked out.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Empire State - Adam Christopher

Rad Bradley is a PI living in Empire State. It's War Time and prohibition is in force. Times are tough for the people as the live under state control. As a result Rad is just making ends meet. After a late night drinking with his journalist friend he is surprised by a young lady looking to hire him. Her lover has gone missing and the police don't care due to the illegal nature of the relationship. Rad agrees to find her and soon comes across her body. She's been murdered and it looks like the murderer was a robot returned from the war. Somehow this is linked to visits from a supposedly dead superhero, an illegal cult. two masked goons and mysterious phone calls from someone called Nimrod. Just when Rad can't possibly be any more confused Kane, the journalist friend, suggests a visit to the scientist Captain Carson might help.

This book got a great review in SFX and it sounded right up my street. Alternate universes, robots, noir and feuding superheros. What's not to like? Plus I did like it. I loved the feel of the book. The image of Empire State was very strong in my mind thanks to the author. I pictured it as a bleak and dark place. Everything in black and white. Exactly the way noir should be. If it was a film it would be visually like Sin City or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Both films I very much loved.

However, I was completely confused a lot of the time. I felt that I could relate to Rad a lot in that sense. The book starts of in New York. Keep in mind that I knew the book was about an alternate New York. When two superheros start fighting each other in front of the Empire State building I think I can be forgiven for being confused when the book switches to the alternate world Empire State. Given that there were superheros in the original I assumed (wrongly) that it was the alternate. Eventually it was clear in my mind why they were alternate because Empire State is almost a mirror image.

I then become confused about who exactly is the bad guy. Just as confused as poor Rad and that confusion stayed until the end. Who exactly is he fighting against? Is it the feuding superheros, the goons, the robot, the crazy man, Carson, Nimrod, all of them? Poor Rad is only one man and not a very good PI (although he is a hero). He can't win against all of them. Don't worry that confusion is cleared up to (eventually) but for that you are going to have to read it yourself.

It was entertaining and a little bit different. Plus Rad was a very likeable character (unlike his doppelganger). For that I do recommend it.

I read this as part of the sci fi challenge hosted by Ellie of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. The months book choice was actually Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear (the book that won the Arthur C. Clarke award and resulted in a rant from Christopher Priest). Whilst I do like Greg Bear I would need to buy it and I am on a book ban this month. Plus I have been dying to read this one. If you want to see what others read you can do so here.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Readathon Books!

Oops, studying for exams has kept me away from the internet. So I haven't been round blogs and I have only just now responded to lots of comments. Sorry!

Anyways, I have finally chosen my books for the readathon. I know, they don't look very exciting thanks to the bland colours. I have chopped and changed my mind so many times over the last week or so. Last night I made my final decision and took a photo whilst my mind was made up. I tried to have a mix so that I wouldn't get bored.

The Grass is Singing - Doris Lessing
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
The Doctor Will See You Now - Max Pemberton

The only one that has been on every list I have come up with is the Agatha Christie. Was a little sad to discover that there was only one in the pile. I was sure I had two. I also threw a non-fiction in there but it's one that is easy to read. Plus Pemberton is generally very funny and I might need that in the wee hours.

I will be posting updates here, on twitter and on my justgiving page (although that will be limited to photo's). I have now unlocked my twitter account. It will stay open until after the readathon so feel free to follow me. Just remember to say hello and let me know who you are so I can follow back. Mine is Karencrafts.

Have any of you decided what you are going to read?

Monday, 9 April 2012

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

More than anything Huck Finn just wants a quiet life. Sadly everyone is going out of his way to ensure that he doesn't get it. Going from town loser to town hero he has been adopted by a widow and her sister. Both are determined that he will become a gentleman whether he likes it or not. Huck is just getting used to the idea when his dad comes along and Huck is determined to get away from him. So he makes his way down river on a raft with runaway slave, Jim. He is in trouble enough and is just trying to keep out of but sure enough more comes along his way as he is caught up in family feuds, cons, murder and more.

It's not quite as good as Tom Sawyer. Poor Huck doesn't have the mind for mischief that Tom has. He doesn't actually want to do wrong as he has a conscience that bothers him quite a bit. He just wants to be left alone and to spend his days fishing. He is actually a very sweet character and as a reader I just wanted him to get his dream. Whether that was the best thing for him or not. Every time he seemed to settle just a little something would come along and spoil things for him.

I loved the character Jim too. I wanted him to get free and to find his family. I loved how superstitious he was. Saw bad luck in everything. The only mischievous thing about Huck was that he would play on poor Jim's superstitions. In the end though he would tell him the truth and occasionally he would be caught up in the superstitions too. One example is that Huck picking up a snake skin is given the blame for every bad thing that happens to them.

I did get a little bored with the con artists at one point. I was actually quite glad when they eventually left the scene. It's my only criticism of the book and even then it's only miner since I did find them amusing most of the time. I loved the ending too. Seemed apt that Tom would end up buddying with his best friend again.

I read this as part of the classics challenge hosted by Katherine on November Moon. I used the challenge as an excuse to read it after re-reading Tom Sawyer for another challenge. Shocking that I had read one and not the other. 

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday is a book meme by Sheila of Book Journey. It's a fun way for book bloggers/readers to share their reading week.

I finished two whole books last week. Been a while since I have finished more than one. This week is technically my Easter holidays but as I have exams and essays due straight after I will still be spending most of it in the library. No promises of getting two books read this week.

This week I read;

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain. A re-red for me and one that I read for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge. I love this book. Funny and full of mischief.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain. I read this for the classics challenge. I chose it this month as I thought it would be perfect to read it straight after Tom Sawyer. Not quite as good as Tom Sawyer but still a lovely book. I did promise to have this reviewed yesterday but completely forgot. Will try to remember to do it tonight. I did do the classics challenge prompt which was about covers. You can see my response here.

Just now I am reading;

Empire State - Adam Christopher. Only just started this one. So far it's living up to it's description of fantasy noir. Set during the 1920's in and alternate New York. I have a feeling I will be reluctant to put it down. I am reading this for the sci fi challenge.

Angelmaker - Nick Harkaway. I really am enjoying this book but because of its size I only read it now and then. As a result I only read 20 pages last week. I haven't even breached the 100 mark. It is very good too so I am going to try and give it more time this week (if Empire State will let me).

Next I plan to read;

Freedom - Jonathan Franzen. I decided to go for this for the modern fiction category of the mixing it up challenge after all. Since I wanted to pick an author that was new too me I would have had to buy a new book for it and I am on a book ban this month. It was it's bulky size that put me off. I'm not normally put off by that but I have been so slow at reading these days that I wanted something easy to read. I am looking forward to it though. Plus after this I will have finished this months challenge reads.

This week I am also going to make a final decision on what to read for the readathon. I promise to post a pic of that when I do.

Hope you all had a good week last week and aren't feeling too ill from lots of chocolate consumption. What was your favourite book last week?

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Classics Challenge - April Prompt

This months prompt is all about one of my favourite topics - the book cover. Why is it my favourite? Well it means that I get to rave about how fantastic the covers of the Vintage classics are. I mean it, I have yet to find one that I didn't like. When other publisher print special editions of books I will sometimes go for those first. Like the Penguin cloth editions (how can you not). Otherwise I always hunt out the Vintage edition. If the shop doesn't have it I check to see if it maybe doesn't exist in that edition before buying a different one.

When I first saw this edition of Huckleberry Finn I fell immediately in love with it. I was buying Tom Sawyer at the time for another challenge. I couldn't leave this behind and so used the classics challenge as an excuse to purchase it. I love the freshness of it. It screams innocence. Which is what Huckleberry is, innocent.

From the cover of the book it's easy to see that Huck just wants a quiet life. He wants to spend his days lazing and fishing. In that sense it does reflect the book very well. I also mentioned innocence. Huck is actually quite a soft hearted character whose conscience is always bothering him (unlike Tom Sawyer). So in that way it's also a true reflection. It also depicts a scene of tranquility which is far from what actually happens to Huck but it's what he wishes for.

I'm not sure I would design the cover any differently from that. I suppose one of Huck and Jim on the raft would have been a good one but I am happy with the cover of this one.

Here is something else I love about the Vintage covers. They design themes around them. So that all the books by the same author are similar. That way if you just want the books of one author they are a matching set. This is the Tom Sawyer book and you can see how they match. The boys are out fishing when really they should be in school (well, I am guessing it's from that particular scene). You can see why I couldn't pick up one and not the other. I think most of the books I have picked out for this challenge are by vintage so you can look out for those covers if you are interested.

This challenge is organised my Katherine of November's Autumn. If you want to see what everyone else is saying about the covers of their books you can do so here. 

I've finished Huckleberry Finn and will try to review the book itself tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer and his brother are living with his aunt Polly and his cousin Mary since the death of their parents. Polly loves her nephews dearly but Tom can be so trying. A loveable boy who seems to find trouble without actually looking. In this short book he manages to find love, become a pirate, see a murder, find treasure, cross his nemesis and get himself lost.

This was a re-read for me and a good one. I was looking forward to reading it again. I loved this book the first time. It was one of many books that I was recommended to read as a kid but since it was about boys I wasn't interested. In all honesty I don't think I would have appreciated it back then for that reason so I am kind of glad that I read it in my 20's.

Tom is definitely one of those characters you can't help but love. He has the best of intentions which always seem to get him in trouble. I can imagine most boys reading this book and being able to relate to most of it.   I was so amused by everything he got up to.

It was all told with such humour too but a sort of dry humour. I loved the incantations Tom whole heartedly believed in. He believed that nothing worked without one and if it didn't work even then a witch must have interfered with it. One (of many) example is he buries a marble says an incantation and this marble is then supposed to attract all the other marbles he has ever lost. Of course every time he does this he forgets where he has buried the marble.

Reading this book you certainly won't be bored as Tom is very rarely ever bored. He is always up to something and as a result I found myself powering through the book. I was actually quite sad by the time it had ended. I am sure that wasn't the end of Tom's adventures.

The reason I read this again is that it is part of the League of Extraordinary Gentleman challenge hosted by Hanna of Booking In Heels. Tom is the character we are focusing on this time. As much as I love him I think he is the odd one out so far. He is just a typical little boy unlike all the other characters in the League. He is the protege in the graphic novel and film. An adventurer which sort of fits but he still stands out among all the others. I wonder why the author picked him. If you want to see what people have thought about the other characters you can do so here.