Thursday, 31 March 2011
Booking Through Thursday
I am not one of these people who will read anything just to be reading something. Yes, I read headlines whilst in the queue of the supermarket but I think that's just shear nosiness (on my part). I do have to always have a book on the go. I need to know I have started a book even if I don't have it on me. I get antsy if I don't. There has been times when I remember I finished a book the night before and in my rush to leave the house I hadn't started another one or brought on with me with the intentions of starting it. So I have went out of my way of buying another book and read a couple of pages. My sister laughs at me for that.
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Room - Emma Donoghue
This was recommended at my book group a while back and I was intrigued (although it was suggested as a Halloween title and I still have no idea why). The whole book is from the point of view of 5 year old Jack. A little off putting at front but in the end a fantastic idea. You see how Jack views Room as a home. He then has to get used to outside having no idea what to make of everything. There were times though when I felt just as exhausted as his Ma and Grandma must have felt.
I found the subject to be fairly disturbing as you would expect. A young women held prisoner and raped repeatedly for 7 years. There were times that I wondered why I was continuing with it. I have read many a book with difficult plots so I don't know why this one bothered me more. Maybe because I kept thinking of all those news stories where women were found after being held captive for years. Seemed too real maybe. Still, I couldn't put it down and as I had to know what was going to happen.
So whilst it was a good book and it will stick with me for a long long time I am not sure I enjoyed it. I do recommend it though so long as you don't mind the narrator being a 5 year old.
Edit: Having thought about it I didn't dislike the book. It just made me feel uncomfortable. The theme was disturbing and whilst that normally wouldn't get to me it did in this case. Also very uncomfortable by the fact that Jack was still being breast fed at the age of 5. A little hard to ignore since it's mentioned quite a lot through out the book.
Do Prizes Matter?
Interestingly I saw in the guardian that John Le Carre has asked to be removed from the list (his request was turned down). He said that he doesn't write to compete for literary prizes and therefore did not want to be considered for it. Are there any writers out there who do write to compete do you think? Perhaps there are some who's goal is to one day win such a prestigious award. I don't actually see what's wrong with that. What's wrong with a little ambition? I have my doubts though that when a writer sits down to work on his or her book they do so with only that prize in mind. Or am I being naive?
I wonder if there are other authors out there who feel the same way he does. I imagine though that most would see it as an honour. I think I would if I was a writer. I personally like these prizes. I don't always go out of my way to read the winners as they might not always appeal to me. I have though found new authors to enjoy through them. Last year I read Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall" and it is now one of my favourite books. I can speak from experience that prize winners sell. There are a number of authors out there who deservedly became more widely read thanks to things like this. For that reason alone I do think prizes matter.
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
RIP Diana Wynne Jones
Monday, 28 March 2011
Top Ten Tuesday
Halting State - Charles Stross
Saturday, 26 March 2011
Anyways, I realise it's probably US time rather than UK but I'm going to take part anyways. Am very much looking forward to seeing blog updates by other participating (yep, you blog as you go although you don't actually have to).
If you are interested the link is here. I am offsky to pick out my books for the event.
Friday, 25 March 2011
The Haunting of James Hastings
James tragically loses his wife in a hit and run just behind their home. He then quits his job as a stand in for rapper Ghost and hides himself away in his large house. He spends his time in a drunken stupor spying on his neighbours. His only interaction is the occasional drink with neighbour Lucy. A year later he begins to notice strange phone calls at the same time every morning. Sometimes he doesn't feel quite along in his own home. Then a new neighbour moves next door and he begins to wonder if his dead wife is reaching out to him.
Not the worst ghost story I have ever read but not exactly the best either. It didn't exactly give me chills or leave me feeling terrified (the sign of a good ghost story). I didn't mind persevering with it either so it couldn't have been too bad. In all honesty I am not sure what to think about it. I don't think the idea is exactly original. The ghost of a loved one trying to come back through possession. At least it didn't feel like a new idea. I did like the fact that he began to question himself. Was he really Ghost and James was also dead? I think I would have liked it better if there had been more of this through out the book.
On the other hand I hated the character of Ghost. It was quite obvious he was an imitation of Eminem. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind Eminem but the character in the book was irritating as was James when he imitated him. It felt too much like trying to be down with the kids. Had Ghost not been such and obvious Eminem character maybe I wouldn't have minded it quite as much.
The haunting of the house itself seemed quite feeble too. One mention of his clothes being put away as his wife used to do it and then no more references to that. An incident with paintings and then a couple more in the ballroom. That was it. If you want to scare the hell out of me (which is generally quite easy) I need more than that. More atmosphere. Oh, and a ballroom? The house is in an area that was not long ago quite a bad one. Going by his descriptions of the other houses and the fact that someone dumps a sofa in the alley I doubt any of those homes would have a ballroom. Bit hard to believe.
Over all the writing was okay. It did keep my interest long enough to finish. I also like coming away wondering if he had been haunted by his wife or if it was the work of a couple of crazies. I picked this up after a friend had raved and raved about the authors first one. I wish now I had read "Birthing House" first as I doubt very much I will read another of his books.
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Top Ten Tuesday
Bookish Pet Peeves.
I do have them but I also seem to contradict myself in some of them. The contradiction is in red.
1. Book Covers. I don't mind to admitting that I am a magpie when it comes to book covers. I am attracted to the pretty or unusual. It doesn't determine my book purchases but I am more likely to look at a book if it attracts me in some way. There are times though I have to wonder what publishers are thinking. I understand that the point of the book is about the content but surely you want to attract new readers to it? Off hand I can only think of one example and it's not a strong one. Last year I read "New York" by Edward Rutherford. I loved it and it became one of my favourites. I will eventually read others by this author. I picked it up because of the title. I had not long been on holiday in New York and so I was curious about the book. Had it not been for that I would have dismissed it as potential mass market trash because that's what it looks like (I do like a trashy mass market book now and then but I stick to specific ones). Maybe that's a problem with me being so judgemental but I wonder how many others have dismissed a fantastic book because of the cover?
Here is where I contradict myself. I do actually also like a trashy cover. You know those naff covers from the 70s? I like them. I find them amusing and I would pick a second hand book based on that.
2. Shiny book covers. I'm talking about the ones that have a film of plastic over it to make it shiny. That film of plastic peals so easily. A book store sticker will destroy it. Sometimes just carrying it in your bag will leave you with a book half matt and half shiny. This isn't restricted to mass market books.
No contradictions here. I really do hate this.
3. Changing book covers. Yep another book cover peeve. Don't worry I am not completely shallow. There will be others coming up. I hate it when half way through a series the publisher decides to release them all with new cover designs. It seriously irritates me. I can understand why they do it. Usually it's because the author has moved up in popularity and they want to make the most of it. Annoying for those who have enjoyed the books since they were first published. I am one of those anal types who likes their books to match. I especially hate it when the new designs are nicer than the old ones.
Not really a contradiction I don't think. My ex ended up with a series of my favourite books. Me being week I chose to lose the books than having to see him again. A few years later the books were released again with lovely new designs. I took that as an opportunity to replace all the earlier ones and I actually do prefer this new design.
4. Airport editions. This is a new pet peeve. They didn't bother me before. The airport stores would get a hardback sized edition of a new book with a soft cover. This is all to do with weight and they were limited to the airports. The bookstores got the hardback ones. Now though some publishers are releasing them to bookstores too. Not instead of the hardback but as an edition between the hardback and the paperback. The publishers don't advertise it as that though. They advertise it as paperback. If I had wanted a book that size I would have bought the durable hardback.
5. Ridiculous story lines. I can suspend reality when reading. I love the original and I love the minute detail authors can go into when creating an unlikely world. I enjoy reading horror and science fiction and I am aware that to some these realities are ridiculous (in that mostly they are never going to become a reality). I am okay with that. I am expecting it and I like it. There are times though when authors take it too far. The prime example of this is Audrey Niffenegger's "Her Fearful Symmetry". Most of you will know that her previous book was hardly based on reality. I am fairly certain that people don't jump through time. Still, I liked it. Her next one involved a ghost. It was the most ridiculous book I have read in my life and I seriously wanted to damage it. I never damage books. I hate breaking the spines but I was close to tearing it in two or, at the very least, tossing it across the room. Apologies Twilight fans but Breaking Dawn is another example. I can only suspend reality so much.
Contradiction is my recent love of Kathy Reichs. The coincidences in these books would fall into the ridiculous category. The main character goes on holiday and she just happens to come across bodies that are linked to a case she had been working on in another country. It amuses me and it's one of the reasons I keep reading.
6. Perfect endings. I am generally quite open minded when it comes to endings. I don't mind happy ones or open ones or even sometimes slightly confusing ones. I do confess to liking the unhappy endings. I hate perfect endings. I think some people confuse happy endings with perfect ones. You can have happy without the perfect but the perfect must always have the happy. Things conveniently tie up and sometimes those ties make no sense or it's far too easy. I am usually waiting for the catch.
7. Series Mojo. If you have read my booking through Thursday response you will know I enjoy a series. I do think that it's inevitable that a series will eventually lose it's mojo. The novels formula becomes far too predictable and the characters are just repeating the same thing over and over again. I really do wish that they would end the series on a high and with a fantastic ending that slowly killing it with boredom. The Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich are a perfect example. I don't think there has been anything new for the last four or five.
Yet I will still buy these books although I am no longer as soon as they are released. I will read them purely for Grandma Mazur who is still entertaining (and Ranger). I do think Grandma Mazur should get her own series.
8. Characters that go out of character. There was a book I read not that long ago that did this. For the life of me I can't remember what it was and it's itching at the back of my head. No doubt it will hit me six months from now. Anyways, I do understand that the author has artistic license with their characters. It's their creation and up to them how they think they will react to any given situation. To have a character change all of a sudden though is irritating when it makes no sense and it's only for that one brief moment.
9. Product placement. A problem that is usually linked to films or television. I have seen it in books though. I don't mind products being there for a reason. Description is a very important part of a book. Product placement seems to be a bigger part of YA these days. They are more likely to mention ipods or converse, etc. Generally speaking it doesn't bother me too much especially if it is important. There are some books though that mention the same product over and over again and it's really unnecessary. The House of Night series springs to mind. I lost count of the number of times Starbucks was mentioned in them. Yet instead of mentioning cola it describes brown pop. In later books the product has changed (I can't remember what) but the placement is still there. Is it to keep up with the trends of youth? I don't know but I hate it.
10. Dialect. I have seen this mentioned on a few blogs. I am not a fan of reading in dialect. It slows down the pace of the book and after a while it becomes annoying. Many authors are able to describe a characters accent or origins without using this. I have a specific dialect I hate though. If you aren't Scottish I beg you not to try and write in a Scottish dialect. It's mortifying. I dare these authors to read some Scottish fiction written in true dialect and see if they can understand it. If they struggle then they shouldn't try writing it themselves. It's not only irritating I am generally going to be offended by the stereotyping. House of Night series again does that. I am all for Scottish characters. Just not bad imitations. I am assuming that everyone feels the same about their own regional accents?
No contradictions for the last two. I did use the same series of books though as an example. So why read them? I get a kick out of everything that is bad about them (and there is a lot). I love nothing more than to rant about it. Predictably, as the series has continued these rants have grown and it's not fun anymore so I have stopped reading them. Bet you are pleased there will be no ranting reviews of them here.
Booking Through Thursday
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Confessions Of A GP - Dr Benjamin Daniels
I picked this book up because I loved those similar by Max Pemberton and then the Paramedic tales by Tom Reynolds. Unlike the others this one is slightly confusing. It's supposed to be a year in the life of a GP and yet mixed with those stories are tales from medical school and his time in hospitals. There is no linear structure. I would be okay with this if there was any other structure to it but there isn't. The stories themselves appear to be in no order. If they were from a blog such as the Reynolds book that would maybe make sense but they aren't. Just randomised thoughts and that bothers me a little. Mind you, that maybe says more about me than the book.
For the most part the stories are very funny and it is worth a read. It's also a bit of an eyeopener as to how people see their family GP. For me it's a chore. I need to be almost dying to go and I honestly can't remember when I last went. I have had more hospital visits than doctor visits (and those are rare too). Lucky me you might think but people seem to visit their doctor for a chat. It came across that GPs are more like a community councilor than a doctor. I am sure this may irritate some and feel that it is a waste of their time but this is certainly not the impression I got from this author.
There were of course a couple of rants mixed in there. I dare anyone to be able to write about your place of work and not have a single rant. The rants though are rare and for the most part they aren't really aimed at the NHS itself. I did find a few of them dull and I confess I skimmed some of those.
Overall I did like the book. It made me chuckle and it was a light read. Not as good as Max Pemberton or Tom Reynolds as with those I did learn something. Now all we need is a nurse to bring out a book with their tales. I am sure that would be just as (if not more so) interesting.
Monday, 21 March 2011
The Broken Window - Jeffery Deaver
I have been on a bit of a crime spurt the last few weeks and this is the fifth crime book I have read in a row. Deaver is the first author that drew me back into the genre and made me think that I had misjudged it. I don't particularly like his stand alone books but I love the Lincoln Rhyme and now the Kathryn Dance series. I love the fact that I can guess most of the book but there is still a big surprise in there somewhere. I think if that bag surprise disappears then I will probably stop reading the books. The social side of the book irritates me at times mainly because I would rather it moved on. Thankfully, I am not alone in that as I discovered recently that it annoys a friend too. I can put up with it though for the rest.
Like most of the later books in the series I start the book feeling vaguely disappointed. I think that this book isn't going to be quite as good as the rest and maybe the series has lost it's edge. Usually something makes me change my mind. In this case the killer was made known to the reader straight away. We had insight into what he was from page one. In past books this is done to confuse the reader and there is usually a twist in there. Not in this case. The killer is exactly as he is portrayed just his identity might come as a surprise although I did guess correctly in the end. The identity theft plot I found a little dull although scary that companies have such detailed information on everyone. I wasn't even half way through the book when I found my mind turning to what I planned on reading next.That soon changed though. It actually got quite exciting when the killer picked up and began targeting Rhyme and his team. It didn't seem like they would be able to beat him.
Overall I still think that it's one of the weaker books in the series but Deaver should be applauded for trying to make it slightly different from the rest. It certainly hasn't put me off reading more.
Sunday, 20 March 2011
Booking Through Thursday.
The news has been horrifying and addictive this week, with catastrophe piled on catastrophe, to a degree that–if I had read this in a book or seen it in a movie–I’d be protesting that it was just too unlikely, too farfetched.
But, topics for novels get ripped from the headlines all the time. Or real-life events remind you of fiction (whether “believable” or not) that you’ve read but never expected to see. Or real life comes up with an event so unbelievable that it stretches you sense of reality.
Hmm … I can’t quite come up with an outright question to ask, but thinking about the theory of fiction and how it can affect and be affected by real world events can act as a buffer between the horrific events on the news and having to actually face that horror. So … what happens when the line between fiction and reality becomes all-too slim? Discuss!
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!