Sunday 30 October 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

 It's Monday is a book meme by Sheila of Book Journey. It's a fun way of sharing your reading week and finding out what everyone else has planned.

A good week this time. I read;

An Idiot Abroad by Karl Pilkington. Not as funny as I was expecting it to be. I think Karl is probably funnier on screen when being ridiculed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. This was one of my Halloween reads. Sadly it failed to scare and impress. Loved the main character though so I really do wish I liked the book

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. Another Halloween read. This one was fantastic. I really can't recommend it enough. Extremely creepy and beautifully written.

Just now I am reading;

The Fall of the House of Usher and other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe. The last of the Halloween reads. This one is going to take me a while as I didn't quite realise just how many short stories are in this collection. Enjoying them so far though.

IQ84 book one and two by Haruki Murakami. Since my latest Halloween read is short stories I had decided to read other books at the same time. As the Halloween reads are all gone I could no longer hold this one at bay. I am only 30 pages in but have been quickly sucked into Murakami's world. Just like I always am. Already I am enjoying the characters.

I haven't planned what book is next although I have a fair idea what it will be. The short stories are going to take me a while and I really want to savour IQ84.

What have you been reading?

Edit: Almost forgot "Happy Halloween". Anyone got any fun plans? Fun costumes? I have none as I have exams and other things on this week so I have to live through all of you. ;)

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury

Two boys have lived their lives side by side having been born just minutes apart. The two are so completely different and yet in sync. Jim is always racing ahead and Will is always trying to catch up. One day the carnival comes to town and the boys sneak out to watch it set up. Instinctively they know that there is something wrong with this carnival. Something about it worries them as they watch the tents going up at 3am in the morning. In the daylight all looks normal and many people are enticed in to have their dreams and wants come true. Jim and Will discover that there is more to this than there seems and set out to stop anyone else getting hurt. However, they are discovered by the owners of the carnival and now their own lives are in danger as the carnival hunts them down.

I love Ray Bradbury. I have read a number of his books and I always forget just how wonderful they are. With this one it was the writing style of the book. It was almost as if the words wanted to take a poetic format. I seriously think this could easily have been read out in a performance. Possibly not surprising since Bradbury intended the original of this book to be brought to life on screen.

The boys themselves were fantastic characters. Each so very different and yet sharing that strong bond of friendship. Their characters almost complimented each other. I also loved Will's dad who looked over the boys longing for the freedom and youth they have. A desire the carnival picks up on and tries to use to sway him. Little does her realise that his son doesn't see him as the old man he sees himself as.

As well as being a fantastic piece of writing the book has confirmed something to me. Carnivals are creepy places. I have never really liked them and now I know why. They are scary and bad things can happen. I've actually came across a few stories about carnivals which have added to this hypothesis. These boys are certainly braver than me. I would never leave my house at 3am just to watch one being set up. I certainly wouldn't wonder around it alone after hours.

A great Halloween read. I highly recommend it. Oh, and the next time you go to a carnival maybe think twice about going into the hall of mirrors or going onto the carousel.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas lives up to his name. He is a little Odd, a harmless eccentric to the people who don't really know him in his own town. Being born with his gift being Odd is understandable. He can see dead people. He can't hear them and so has to use his intuition to discover what it is they need from him. The rest of the time he is a fry cook and boyfriend of the lovely Stormy. On August 14th he is working in the kitchens when a strange man enters the cafe. His food order is strangely large but there is something about him that gives Odd Thomas a bad vibe. Something is going to happen in the town and it centers round this creepy man. Odd believes that he has to do something to stop him or many people will die.

I got into Dean Koontz round about the same time I started reading Stephen King. Even then I knew they weren't in the same league but I still enjoyed reading Koontz. He was at the lighter range of horror which can be a nice change. I eventually stopped reading them though and I certainly didn't feel the need to read his entire back catalog because all of his characters started to feel the same to me. They all ran into one another and I couldn't honestly remember the names of the main characters in the books that I had read months after reading it. I picked this one up because it was recommended to me as a Halloween read. It's been years since I have read any of his books and I did actually like the fact that it was the first in a series starring this one character (plus with the name Odd Thomas I am not likely to forget). So, I was actually looking forward to it.

I very much wanted to like the book and not just for old times sake. I liked Odd Thomas. He was a sweet if rather strange guy. I liked his out look on life even if he did seem a little naive at times. Definitely likable which showed in the fact that everyone in town seemed to love him if not understand him. The first and main problem I had with the book is the first person narrative. It was great because I got to see they way Odd worked and what he thought. However, he did have a tendency to wonder off the point. From the first few pages I would find I had read a page and not taken anything in because my mind started to wonder. I would go back and re-read it only to find that I didn't need to bother. What I had missed had nothing to do with the story at hand. I felt that there was a lot of that in there. Plus a lot of repetition in there too. I don't know how many times we heard that Granny Sugars used to like to gamble or that Odd's dad was trying to send land on the moon.

The plot itself I felt was a little weak. Most of it was chasing round one guy and then nothing really happened until the end. All of a sudden a satanic cult was involved and the detail in that was light until the end too. The fact that Odd can see something called baldocks was interesting but in the end they didn't really have much to do with what Odd was trying to prevent. Although I can see that they might have a part to play in another book. Odd also experienced something supernatural in the house of the stranger but again it had no real part to play in the plot. We never really found out how or why it happened other than some guess work made by Odd. I have to admit that I spent most of the book impatiently waiting for the story to move along.

As much as I liked Odd as a character I don't think I will be reading any more of these books. I am actually a little sad about that because I really did like him. Oh, and as a Halloween read I would give it a big zero. Wasn't scared for a minute and I am a bit of a wimp.

Monday 24 October 2011

An Idiot Abroad - Karl Pilkington

Karl Pilkington is friends with Ricky Gervais and as a result he spends his life being mocked by him. Mainly for his oddly round head. Pilkington is not and adventurer or a traveler. He knows what he likes and he would rather it stayed that way. Friends Ricky and Stephen decide this is the perfect way to poke some fun at him and make a TV programme at the same time. So they send him round the world to visit the 7 wonders, force him to stay in hovels and to take part in tasks he would rather not do. This book is a diary of those events.

I am actually not a fan of Ricky Gervais. I am probably the only person in the world who is unable to watch him without wanting to hurl something at the television. Famed for his amusing arrogance which actually just sets my teeth on edge. Despite that I clearly have a bit of a sadistic side because every time he appears on TV with Pilkington I find him hilarious. Really I am laughing at Pilkington and I should probably feel bad about that but he does have some of the most insane ideas. Some of which actually scarily make sense.

Anyways, that's my round about reason for picking up this book. The truth is I probably should have just watched the show. It probably would have been funnier. Oh, the book did get a few laughs but not enough to make me say this man is hilarious. Instead it was filled with a few laughs, lots of complaints about toilets interrupted by annoying conversations with Gervais.

This might actually be my shortest review as I don't think there was much more to add about the book. Unlike most travel books he didn't inspire fascination for the places he was visiting. It was a nice distraction but not worth buying the book for. I am curious about his other books though and wonder if maybe they will be a little funnier.

Sunday 23 October 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a fun meme by Sheila of Book Journey. A great way to share our reading week.

This week I read;

The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins. Up there as one of my favourite classics. This was my classic a month choice.

 The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Loved this book. Not as scary as I thought it would be but I still enjoyed it. One of my Halloween reads.

Just now I am reading;

 An Idiot Abroad by Karl Pilkington. Not really impressed to be honest but I am reading it to keep me distracted from the monsters.

 Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Another Halloween read. Been years since I've read any Koontz. Not that far into it but already the first person narrative is irritating me.

Next I plan to read;

The Fall of the House of Usher and other stories by Edgar Alan Poe. This will be my first foray into Poe. I am very much looking forward to it. Plus the photo of this cover doesn't do justice to how pretty it is. Another example of the fantastic Vintage classics series.

Read more than I expected to but then the Shirley Jackson was a short and easy read. Not sure if I will get onto Poe this week but it is definitely my next book. What have you been reading?

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson

Dr Montague sees himself as an expert on psychic activity. He stumbles over Hill House and decides it's the perfect place to study this phenomenon. A reportedly haunted house that no one will talk about openly. So he invites some people along who are know to have shown some psychic ability. Eleanor decides to go now that she is all alone in the world. She has nothing else to lose and maybe it will give her the sense of belonging she craves. The beautiful Theodora also accepts and Luke, heir to the house, tags along. The house immediately makes itself felt and the group are aware that it won't be long before something happens. They are unsure as to what that will be but don't believe it will put them in any physical danger until it's too late.

My first knowledge of this book was actually the 1999 film "The Haunting" starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luke Wilson. It's a film my mum would watch relentlessly. A film I hated as it just wasn't very good. When I asked for some Halloween book recommendations my friend urged me to read this one. I picked it up although I had my doubts when I discovered the book was based on it. I know I always share why I decide to read a book and it's usually not relevant. In this case it is though as I had to push my memories of the film out of my head in order to read the book. Or at the very least try not to let my dislike of it prejudice my view of the book.

The book actually has a very different tone. It's set in the late 50's and the characters in the book actually had a very different feel to those in the film for that reason alone. We immediately feel for Eleanor who has spent most of her life caring for her mother. She takes this offer to Hill House as a way to get out the house of her selfish sister and her husband. For her sake I wanted her to keep driving round America rather than to end the journey she was enjoying so much at Hill House. I was so relieved for her when she quickly fit in to the group and found a niche for herself. A relief that the character felt herself. As the book continues though that niche isn't as secure as it first seemed. Either by Eleanor's doing or by the people around her. Maybe as her neediness showed the other characters were put off by it and in the end pitied her.

What I really think though is that it's the house. We know as soon as Eleanor arrives at the village that there is something wrong with house. The people are strange and uncommunicative. Then the people caring for the house are exactly the same. Possibly the house has seeped into all of these people. Eleanor herself is afraid as soon as she arrives at the house. As the book continues the house is found to be creepier. Doors that won't stay open, noises in the night and an unexplained cold spot not to mention the dark decor and forbidding decor. The blurb of the book says that the house wanted to claim one of it's guests as their own. I think it seeped into the guests and deliberately gave Eleanor that feeling of being an outcast again. Through out the book she continually reached out to people only to be shrugged off.

The book didn't seem particularly scary or creepy at first. There were a few dark moments such as Eleanor's arrival at the house but the mood of the book was quickly brightened again with the arrival of more people. This just added to the build up because I hit the half way mark and I was extremely glad that I was reading it during the day. In fact I managed to finish it during the day too so no sleepless nights for me (fingers crossed).

A fantastic book which I am glad I read. It goes back to that view of the film never matching up to the book. In this case I am thankful of it.

Friday 21 October 2011

Good Luck Readathoners!

It's readathon time again. I very much enjoyed it when I did my first one way back in April and found some wonderful book blogs to follow. My plan this time was to get a group of friends to do it. We would cheer each other on through twitter and texting and raises some money whilst we are there. Sadly I'm not going to be able to take part after all (stupid course work). I won't even be near the internet in order to cheer people on. So this post is basically a good luck message. Good luck to all of you who are taking part. I am not jealous at all and haven't mentally picked out what my book list would be either.

Thursday 20 October 2011

The Woman In White - Wilkie Collins

Walter Hartright sets out to his new position as drawing master with a very wealthy family. On the way he comes across a mysterious lady dressed all in white. Being a gentleman he of course helps her in her hour of distress only to discover that she has some connection with the family who has engaged him. He arrives in Limmeridge and immediately is taken with the two sisters, Marian and Laura. Together they set out to discover who the lady in white is and why she is in trouble. Matters become more confusing as Laura's betrothed seems to be hiding something concerning this mysterious lady. Walter, Marian and Laura set out to discover the truth but Sir Precival Glyde and his good friend Count Fosco aren't going to make it easy for them. They have a plot up their sleeve and their future depends on it succeeding.

I mention in Mondays post that I was loving this book. I was sure that by the end it would be my favourite classic. I don't know if it quite beats some of those others but it is certainly up there. From the start we are made to feel a sense of foreboding. The narrator, Walter, clearly states that he is writing in order to collect together evidence of events surrounding the woman in white and Percival Glyde. We know straight away something has happened. This tension is increased mere pages later when he comes across the lady and helps to rescue her from an asylum. This tension never goes away. We are well aware that there is a secret to be told and we are kept in the dark for about three quarters of the book. It's not just the secret though. There is the added feeling that Marian and Laura are in danger. The scenes with them trapped in Percival's house with no way of communicating to the outside world and no way of escaping were some of the best.

It did slow down a little. I was able to eventually guess the secret although not long before it was revealed. The tension was kept up simply because of the plot against the sisters. The last quarter of the book was this part coming to a head. Here it felt a little slow because we knew the secret, we knew the plot and we were just now waiting for the ends to be tied together. I think this was the only part of the whole book which let it down. Having said that though it was still enjoyed reading it and I would have been sorry had it ended any other way. Possibly a good thing too. As I said in my last post I wasn't able to read it any quicker than I did because of that tension alone. It was almost too much (in a good way). If I had sat and read it for longer periods of time I would have struggled not to flick ahead to see how it turned out because I HAD to know. Thankfully I was distracted by real life too much to put my will power to the test.

I greatly enjoyed the characters. I particularly like Marian. A strong female character for that period. Strong in the sense that she sees herself just as capable as any man. Of course this means she is likely to end up a spinster. I am willing to let that part go just because she was so good. I liked the fact that she put herself in all kinds of danger in order to protect the ones she loved. Her sister was the opposite. Weak and vulnerable and very much in need of protecting. At times this was very irritating especially when she seemed rather childlike. It helped in the story though and I guess books can't always be filled to the gunnels with strong females. Besides Collins didn't discriminate either. There was a extremely weak male character in the shape of Laura's uncle. Funny how I found him entertaining though.

The one thing I love about literature from that era is the power of description. I love contemporary fiction but when it comes to setting a scene and mood classics from that time seem to have the edge. Possibly it's the language that allows the author to go over the top with description. I know in more recent books I would have found this to off putting. There is such a thing as too much but in this case it was just right. This just added to the edginess I felt as I read it.

I have seen this book on so many top 100 lists but I rarely gave the author or title a second thought. It just didn't appeal to me and how wrong I was about that. I first came across Collins as a possible author to try when I read "The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher" by Kate Summerscale. A book about a murder investigation which set the literary world all a twitter. Apparently inspired Collins and Charles Dickens. It was then I thought to give the book a try but still took me far too long to pick it up. I actually in the end chose it as my classic book for this month because I didn't much feel like any of the others I had there. Plus how lovely is the cover? Once again a vintage classics design.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

October purchases

The books I have ordered have arrived and I am pretty excited about them. Most of them have been recommendations from people. I asked for some spooky reading ideas last week. Here is what I picked up;

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The Fall of the House of Usher and other stories by Edgar Allan Poe.

The Poe was really a must have. Every Halloween for the last three or four years I have said I am going to read some Poe and haven't quite managed it. This time I have no excuse as I now have a very pretty copy of his collection of stories (love vintage classics). The same friend who has been nagging at me to read it also recommended The Haunting of Hill House. I have been told that it's very scary and as I scare easily I am expecting a few sleepless nights. The Ray Bradbury was recommended by the lovely Satia of Satia's Reviews. This is actually another book I have been meaning to read. I read a few Bradbury when I was into my sci fi and loved it. Lastly, I saw someone on the bloghop on Friday list Odd Thomas as a favourite spooky read (I'm sorry I can't remember who it was). I read Dean Koontz long after I discovered Stephen King. Not in King's league but I did enjoy them for a while. Then all the books started to run into each other in my head, the were all so similar, that I took a very long break. Actually this will be the first since then so I am actually looking forward to it.

The book at the bottom of the pile has been renamed 'my baby'. Yep, it's the first two books of Haruki Murakami's "IQ84". It's going to take a lot of will power not to drop everything and read that one. I will be good though and read my Halloween books first. I haven't even opened the cover yet in order to resist temptation.

Anyone have any exciting book purchases this month?

Monday 17 October 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading!

This is a book meme by Sheila of Book Journey. It's a fun way to share your reading week.

As predicted I didn't finish any books last week and so I am still reading The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins. To be fair I had read maybe five pages when I did this post last week. I am just over the half way mark now and what a journey. I think at this point I can safely say that this will be one of my favourite (if not the favourite) classics. I doubt I could have read this any faster even if I wasn't so busy because I am on edge every time I pick it up. I HAVE to know what the woman in whites secret is. I don't think my poor system could take it if I read it any faster.

No plans yet for the next book. I have some scary books on the way which I plan to read this month so I will probably pick one of those.

What are you reading just now? Anyone else read The Woman In White? Anyone planning on some scary October reads?

Friday 14 October 2011

Book Blogger Hop - Spooky

The Book Blogger Hope is a meme over at crazy-for-books. A question to answer every week resulting in book bloggers getting to know each other better.

“What is your favorite spooky book (i.e. mystery/suspense, thriller, ghost story, etc.)?”

Strangely enough I was asking people for scary book recommendations the other day. I used to devour horror books in my early teens and it didn't matter if it was Halloween or not. My favourite scary books back then were dominated by Stephen King. To this day some of those old ones remain my favourites. The Stand I loved in particular although I don't think it was one of his spookiest. Not so long ago I re read some of them and I think the spookiest is probably The Shining. I think the fact that the family is snowed into a hotel on their own with no communication links sets it off.

Some of my favourite classics are fairly spooky too. Rebecca by Dapne Du Maurier probably doesn't spring to mind when it comes to spooky but it definitely has a suspense/mystery side to it. Plus Mrs Danvers is one of the creepiest characters I have ever come across. The more obvious ones are Dracula by Bram Stoker and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It's been years since I have read Dracula but I loved it then. No vampire book has ever quite matched up to it. Frankenstein didn't really scare me. If anything I felt a lot of sympathy for the monster. There was one scene though that I did find spooky. Frankenstein and the monster come across each other at sea. Somewhere near Russia I think and the scene was so well described it gave me the shivers every time I read it.

The last book that scared the hell out of me was another classic, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I read it last year for Halloween. There is just something about ghost stories that scare me to death if done well and this one was done well. The fact that children were involved just makes it creepier and these were seriously creepy children. I swear I had to sleep with the light on after reading that.

I would class all of these as a favourite. I don't think I could pick just one but I am always looking for others. Any recommendations? What's the scariest book you've read?

Monday 10 October 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a book meme by Sheila of Book Journey. A fun way of sharing our reading week.

I have been a little slow in my reading as my studies have picked up. I am still reading though and last week I had a fairly good one.

Last week I read;

How To Be A Woman - Caitlin Moran. A funny look on feminism. Interesting but didn't agree with all of it. Very much agreed with her view on heels, they hurt!

Making History - Stephen Fry. I did like it but it was a bit of a two week slog. Glad Fry didn't let me down.

The Bonesetter's Daughter - Amy Tan. Mixed feelings on this one. I liked the section set in China but not the sections set in present time.

Just now I am reading;

The Woman In White - Wilkie Collins. Only two pages into the book so can't comment at this point. I have been looking forward to this one as everyone who has read Collins seems to love him. This is for my classic a month. I doubt very much I will finish it this week so I'm not going to list another book for the week. Just going to enjoy this one.

What about you:? What have you been reading?

Sunday 9 October 2011

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

Ruth spends her life trying not to rock the boat. She just wants to be happy and to keep everyone in her life happy. For that reason everyone but herself comes first. Recently though it's beginning to grate on her just how much she is taken for granted in her work and in her personal life. Slowly she can feel things slipping away from her and she's not sure how to fix it. Her mother is another worry. Ruth has spent her life translating for her mother but lately what she says is so bizarre that even Ruth can't understand it. She mixes up her birth date and then is adamant that her nurse maid is really her mother. Whilst Ruth looks after her she finds some papers her mother had written. Already worried that her memories were leaving her she wrote down her true life story starting the nurse maid she claims was her mother.

I came away with mixed feelings about this book. First of all my expectations were extremely high. I read "The Joy Luck Club" years ago and I can still remember how much I loved it. I was expecting the same feelings with this book. When that didn't happen instantly I was already disappointed and reading the book seemed like a bit of a chore. Add to that fact that I didn't particularly like Ruth. She was a bit of a doormat and I found it very difficult to sympathise with her.

The second part of the book is the life story of Ruth's mother, LuLing. It's revealed here that she isn't crazy after all and in fact had a very sad early life. This section of the book proved to be far more interesting. LuLing was far more likeable. More strong willed than her daughter and certainly more determined. She had her share of heart breaks which gives some insight into her depression later in life. There is a mirror between LuLing's relationship with her nursemaid and Ruth's relationship with LuLing. They both translated for their mother's and refused to do so when they were feeling frustrated and hard done by. Other reasons for liking this section is that it was more exciting. So much more happened in these pages that made me want to go on. We already know that LuLing ends up in America but we don't really know how she ended up there. It was quite a good story.

The third part was better for the second. Ruth was more likeable because she found new respect and more understanding for her mother. I don't think she quite learned to speak up for herself mind you and that was a little frustrating. I would have liked for her to turn around and do something for herself.

Overall I did enjoy it. Like The Joy Luck Club it is essential about the relationship between mother and daughter. However, that could still all have been in there had the second stood alone as the book. I think I would have liked it more if it had.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Making History - Stephen Fry

Michael Young has a reason to celebrate. He has just finished his thesis which means he will be Dr Michael Young and will soon be asked to become a fellow of the college. His mentor though doesn't quite appreciate his take on history and sends him back to re-rewrite. Leo, a professor on the campus that Michael met by chance, does appreciate it. He's a scientist who is also obsessed with one period in history. Having been brought together they decide to remake history. Little do the realise the trouble it will cause or that the history they create is worse than the original.

I love Stephen Fry. I think he is witty and intelligent. He also has one of those voices I could listen to all day. Yet, I was reluctant to read any of his fiction. I think I didn't want my view of him spoiled. His biographies didn't so I don't know why I thought this might. A friend of mine loves his books and insisted I try it. I'm not sure why I picked this one but it still collected dust after many years.

I am pleased to say that this book hasn't changed my opinion of the author. It was cleverly written and I did love the characters. I loved the idea of it too. Two people who want to correct a horrific era of our history only to make things worse. I found Michael to be endearing. He suited his nickname - pup. I especially enjoyed the second half of the book. That probably comes from me enjoying dystopians so much. Michael finds himself in an alternative history where he is brought up in a different country but he still remembers who he used to be. Leads to some very funny moments.

I loved the ending too. I have to say if it had ended any other way I might have been upset. Although I did have a horrible feeling at one point that the whole thing was going to go off in a circle again. I am so glad that it didn't. Maybe the reader is meant to have that heart stopping moment of fear that the whole thing is going to start over again. It worked on me regardless and the relief that it didn't was extreme.

It was well written as I would expect from any book by Fry. He definitely has a talent for words and his knowledge of history certainly shined through. Despite all that I did find it a bit of a slog 200 pages in. I was read to give up on it if I am truly honest and in fact stopped to read another book. I decided to give it another go and it was only through getting to the second part that I decided to keep with it. I had to know what happened. I would say that it says more about the little time I have for reading these days than it does about Fry's ability to grip the reader.

This books was also part of the 'Books I should Have Read By Now' challenge. It was supposed to be from last month but I took so long in reading it that it bled into October. At the moment I am considering whether or not to continue with the challenge.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

How To Be A Woman - Caitlin Moran

At the age of 13 Caitlin Moran discovered with great horror that she will have no choice but to go through puberty and become a woman. It wasn't a choice. From then on it was an adventure to discover exactly what it means to be a woman for her. Something that changed constantly through out her life. It took falling for losers, working with sexists, living on her own with no money, learning not to follow the glossy magazines, marriage and motherhood to discover the answer to this. Through out all of this she maintains a strong feminist view point and still manages to be herself.

I actually suggested this book for my book group when it was first about to be published. It was vetoed simply because only a few of us were in the mood for non fiction. A number though did go out and buy it simply for the blurb that I had printed out. It wasn't actually what I was expecting though. Various websites had it advertised as more of a humour title and so that was what I was expecting. I was expecting to be howling with laughter. I did laugh but not enough for everyone else on the bus to look at me as though I am a lunatic. Whilst a humorous tone was maintained through out the book the main theme was feminism (of which I did expect a little).

Moran believes that all women are feminists whether they are active or not. If they believe that they should chose how they live their lives and that they should be treated with respect both at home and at work then they are feminists. I myself have always classed myself as one without being particularly active (active in militant terms). This book confirmed my view of it. I am sure the point that Moran put across in her book is not new. I haven't exactly went out of my way to read any books on the subject and so my knowledge of it is low. I liked the view that being a feminist doesn't have to be about man hating and bra burning (I don't hate men and I love my bra). I think that's probably the dated view and certainly closer to militant feminism. Instead she puts forward the idea that feminism is just wanting to be treated the same. To want an equal share and say in the world as men do. To be respected and of course for us in turn to be respectful back. To   not conform to what society says we should be if we don't want to. Basically to be happy in ourselves.

Which brings me on to some other aspects of the book I liked. She talks about the view of women that fashion and the media portray. Or at least the way they show what women should be. Like almost all of us have done she has tried to follow some of this. When she realised it didn't work for her she put her foot down and said no more. The one that I can completely relate to is high heels. I hate them with a passion. Moran explained in one chapter that she has umpteen pairs of heels collecting dust because in reality they kill her feet and she can't walk in them. She's given up trying. I am exactly the same. I can't walk in them and shoes in general always seem to want to destroy my feet until after weeks for breaking them in. Heels never feel broken in and by the end of the night I am usually bleeding to death and unable to walk (slight exaggeration but not by much). Like Moran I gave up on heels long ago but not completely. Every so often the dust will be blown off and I will torture myself for an evening. My last attempt (on my birthday) lead to one very sore ankle that I couldn't walk on for days. It will be my last. I want comfy but pretty shoes.

Moran is also very open about all aspects of her life in this book. There are some that I can see some people would find shocking depending on your political views. I would say that if you are very conservative then you aren't going to enjoy this. But, it is always good to keep an open mind to other people's point of view.

Over all it was a fairly entertaining read. I am still reading one of the books I listed last week but that got pushed to the side when I started reading this. Like I said it wasn't what I expected but I think that's a good thing in this case.

Monday 3 October 2011

Silent In The Grave - Deanna Raybourn

The death of Julia's husband was sudden although not unexpected since his whole family die young from heart conditions. So when Mr Brisbane suggests murder Julia is shocked and doesn't believe a word of it. She spends the next year getting used to being in mourning as befits a lady of her station and looks forward to ridding herself of her widows weeds. Round about then she clears some of Edwards things and finds a rather threatening letter. Maybe Mr Brisbane was right after all. Convinced that Edwards death might not have been natural after all she begs Brisbane to take up the investigation once again. He agrees but to his horror/amusement Julia insists on helping. Little does she realise the danger it will put her in nor how it will possible taint her reputation.

Gabe of Gabriel reads recommended this book months back. I finally picked it up last week when I needed something lighter to read. It was the perfect choice. Silent In The Grave made for an entertaining and yet light read. The author clearly has an obsession with the British Victorian period and indeed the author blurb confirms that. It was almost as though she was using the book to prove to us how much she knows about the era. As a result she seemed to be trying too hard to ensure authenticity. There was too much focus on rituals, proprieties and station. Almost as though the author was trying to hammer home the fact that she is an expert of the period.

Despite that it didn't spoil it for me. I enjoyed the story. It wasn't too taxing and I did like Julia and her family. I especially liked the idea that her family are known to be non conformists. I did get the impression in the first few pages that her father was going to be one of these tyrants but I couldn't have been more wrong. Instead he encourages his children to be bold, especially his daughters.

I was worried about the romance side. Most of you will know that I don't really do romance. I have seen this series of books classified as more romance than crime. I worried for nothing though. Other than some tension between Julia and Brisbane there wasn't much in the way of romance. Perhaps this changes later in the series but for now I am happy to read on. Will definitely be reading more of these books.