Sunday 30 December 2012

Classics Challenge Overview

For the last 6 months of 2011 I had already been challenging myself to read a classic a month. I was enjoying it and knew I would continue into 2012. So when I saw this challenge being set up I felt I had to join in. Instead of just reviewing the books we were given some questions each month. The challenge was to do at least 7 of those prompts. I managed 12 books and 9 prompts so I am quite pleased with myself. I actually read more classics than that but I read 12 specifically for the challenge.

So here is what I had planned to read;

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights - John Steinbeck
The Three Musketeers - Alexander Dumas
Villette  - Charlotte Bronte
Spring Snow - Yukio Mishima
The Leopard - Tomasi di Lampedusa
The Bell - Iris Murdoch
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

And here is what I actually read;

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights - John Steinbeck
The Bell - Iris Murdoch
The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
The Leopard - Tomasi di Lampedusa
The Scarlett Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Villette - Charlotte Bronte
A Connecticuit Yankee in King Arthur's Court - Mark Twain
The Return of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame - Victor Hugo

The Spring Snow is the only one on the list I originally put together that I decided against. I will read it eventually but there were quite a few that I saw reviewed and then felt I had to pick up. Thanks to not completely sticking to a pre-arranged list I read quite a few unexpected surprises. There are a few authors here I will be returning to. I'm not going into which was my favourite and which wasn't as I mentioned all this in the last prompt.

Anyway, thanks to Katherine of November's Autumn for organising. It was another fun challenge and I particularly enjoyed the unusual way it was organised. These prompts made an interesting change to just reviewing.

Friday 28 December 2012

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame Victor Hugo

It's 1482 in Paris and a young Gypsy girl has stolen the hearts of most of it's citizens. She entertains the crowd with her dancing and her pet goat. Several men in particular are enthralled. One has stolen Esmeralda's heart. The second is torn by his love and loathes both himself and Esmeralda because of it. The third is the famous Quasimodo, bell ringer of Notre-Dame. He is devoted to the beautiful gypsy after she shows him more kindness than anyone else has. As a result he is devoted to her. When Esmeralsa's love is found dead she herself is blamed. Only Quasimodo saves her from a hanging as he hides her away in his beloved towers.

I am sure I picked this up before and didn't get very far. Determined this time I forced myself through the first 50 pages which seemed to have nothing to do with the main story whatsoever. It took time for any of the main characters to turn up. However, it does make sense eventually and it's worth sticking to. Even as I was annoyed at what seemed to be unimportant description I was impressed by the beautiful writing.

The story is actually slow paced. It spands over 500 pages and nothing much happens in most of it. Instead we are given back ground information to some to the characters. We are also seemingly given unimportant detail of other people but it all connects up and even if it hadn't I was too mesmerised by the writing to care.

I loved each of the characters. Esmeralda's story was just as sad as that of Quasimodo's (well, almost). I even felt sorry for the villan of the book who was so torn by his own beliefs. I'm speaking of course of the Archdeacon who had lived a celibate life and belonged to the church. Esmeralda was everything he couldn't have and yet everything he wanted. The only character I had little sympathy with was that of Esmeralda's love, Captain Phoebus. He seems typical of a lot of classic books. The vain and lazy military man who has no money and so has to marry well. Wants his bit on the side too. I am sure there is one of him in a lot of classic literature.

Over all I loved the book and it was a good last choice for the classics challenge. Since the December prompt for this one is a wrap up I am going to do that separate from this review. If you want to see what others did you can see it here on Katherine's blog, November Autumn.

Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Hope Santa brings you much book goodness.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Sci Fi Challenge Overview!

Ellie from Curiosity Killed the Bookworm set this challenge up last year in order to encourage more people to give the genre ago. For me it was a genre I was familiar with but one I had abandoned for a few years. When I realised I had only read three sci fi books last year (which is shocking since I went through a phase of reading it almost exclusively) I decided to join the challenge. The plan was to read some sci fi that I had been wanting to read for years but never got around to. I think I succeeded and got to read some great books. I even joined in one or two of the group choices. I stuck with just one book a month. Here is my list and a link to each of my reviews.

Zoo by Lauren Beukes
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham
Empire State by Adam Christopher
Cities In Flight by James Blish
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds
Manhattan In Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton
The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
Ringworld by Larry Niven
The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey

A bit of a mixed bag I think. Some new authors, some classics and a couple of old favourites. I think I didn't do too badly. There are still some books out there that I want to read but I think that I read all of the ones that I had set out to. The main one would be Enders Game. I knew as soon as I signed up for this that it was going to be on my list. Getting hold of a coupy proved to be a little difficult. They must be getting ready for a re-print with the new film coming out. As it was it was months of a wait to buy and so I ended up going via the library route. That also meant a wait but it was worth it. A great read and not at all what I had been expecting.

I wish I had taken part in the group choices more but I had promised myself I would cut down on the book buying and I had a few in my tbr pile that I wanted to read. I did read three from the book choices though; Zoo, Do Androids Dream and Flowers For Algernon. Zoo I had been wanting to read since I saw it reviewed and couldn't resist. The other two were on my bucket list.

I don't think there is one book on that list that I completely disliked. The ones that probably will never be a favourite had their good points so I can't say that I disliked them. They were; Cities In Flight, Century Rain and Ringworld. Century Rain was probably the one that I was most disappointed with but only because I loved other books by the author. Again, I didn't completely dislike it.

It's also hard to choose a favourite. There were so many good ones and each of them different. I very much enjoyed going back to Peter F. Hamilton. I was reminded of why I loved this author. Do Androids Dream and Flowers For Algernon were fantastic classic sci fi. They reminded me that I need to go back and try more. Oh, and Wyndham is also an old favourite. The Kraken Wakes wasn't his best book but it was still a good one.

Thanks Ellie for organising this. Hopefully I will keep up with my sci fi reading next year! Oh, and if any of you are interested Ellie is hosting another challenge for next year. This involves reading translated books. Called 2013 Translation Challenge and has another fab lego gif.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

The Ship Who Sang - Anne McCaffrey

Helva was born with a body so deformed that she normally wouldn't have survived. However, her brain was perfect and used to eventually become part of a ship. Helva is intelligent, witty and still feels human without a human body. All she needs is the brawn (human counterpart) to team up with and she can visit worlds, save lives and live the next 200/300 years as one big adventure. However, Helva soon discovers that being human also includes loss and loneliness.

I didn't realise it at the time but this is actually a collection of short stories or rather five novella's. Not that it makes any difference since they are all connected. I don't think you could really read one of those stories without reading the ones before it.

I chose this as my last book for this challenge because I wanted a lighter sci fi book. I wanted something that I could read as a distraction and that I could put down and pick up again without any problem. Anne McCaffrey immediately popped in to my head as the perfect choice. Plus I had been meaning to go back and read some more of her work since she passed away last year.

These stories, whilst a little un-PC, were a great read. They were light, full of adventure and just a touch of technology. Well a big touch since the main character was wired in to a ship but it wasn't as hard core as some. You didn't have to necessarily understand the technology to get it. In each story it's Helva who saves the day. She's a little different from the other ships because she can sing. At first this is something she is ridiculed for but eventually becomes part of her legend. A ship who will do what she can to keep those under her care safe no matter what.

The un-PC aspect is a little tough to take in today's world. The fact that Helva's parents had to make a choice. Have their disabled daughter euthanised or wired in to technology. You can see where the un-PC aspect comes in. I have to say I didn't particularly like that part of it. McCaffrey did confront it from the beginning by having characters who believe it to be inhumane to visit the facility and see that all the brain children are happy. Still, it leaves with a bit of bad taste in the mouth.

If you can get over it like I did though you have some fun stories to read.

As I mentioned earlier on I read this as part of the sci fi challenge and this was in fact my last book for it. If you want to see what others read this month you can do so over at Ellie's blog Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. The suggestion was to read a festive-ish sci fi book but once again I went with my own choice. Have enjoyed the challenge overall and I will review it later on in the week.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Mixing It Up Challenge Overview

Before I start with my overview I just wondered if anyone else was having problems with spammers? It's just been recently and maybe my little time away from my blog had something to do with it. It's also only on very old blog posts that require me to moderate the comments anyway. Since it's annoying me though I am no longer allowing anonymous comments. Sorry people.

Okay, so this challenge was hosted by the lovely Ellie of Musings of a Bookshop Girl. Way last year she set a challenge to encourage people to come out of their comfort zone. You could enter at different levels and each level had a certain number of categories to complete. The highest level meant all 16 categories. I chose one of the lower ones and 12 categories so that it would mean one book a month. I've listed the 12 categories I chose and the books I read for them below;

Classics - Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Biography - Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
History - Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir
Modern Fiction - Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
Graphic Novels & Manga - The Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Crime and Mysetery - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre
Horror - Miss Peregrines's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Science Fiction & Fantasy - A Sorcerer's Treason by Sarah Zettel
Travel - A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson
Poetry & Drama - The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Journalism & Humour - Moranthology by Caitlin Moran
Science & Natural History - The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins

As some of these categories weren't much out of my comfort zone I decided that I would only choose books by authors I had never read before. Obviously I completely forgot about my addition to the challenge by the end as I had read Bill Bryson and Caitlin Moran before (in fact Bryson appears on this list twice). The rest of the authors were new to me though so I'll let myself get away with it.

First of all my least favourites of the list would easily be the Preacher and The Greatest Show On Earth. Neither books would stop me from reading from those genres again though. With the Preacher it could have been a good story and it did pick up for me near the end but the constant violence put me off. As I am sure I mentioned in my initial review I am no prude when it comes to a bit of violence in my reading but this was violence for violence sake. Basically I was bored by it and wanted story instead. As for The Greatest Show On Earth I found it to be a little preachy and a little dull. I did learn things from it but in the end it wasn't a book for me. I like my science books a little lighter than that.

Whilst I enjoyed all of the other books one stands out from all the rest. That book is The Crucible by Arthur Miller. This stands out not just because I loved the book but it's also one category which was definitely out of my comfort zone. My first foray into drama since school was some Shakespeare for another challenge at the start of the year. So this was only my second attempt and with something completely different. Like with the Shakespeare books it was easy to forget the format it was written in. I got just as much from it as I would have done from any novel and I couldn't put it down. I was surprised by how well the atmosphere of the play was built up given the restrictions to the format. I don't think I will ever dismiss the play again when it comes to reading material. For that one book alone the challenge was successful.

If you want to see what I thought about all of the books you can do so here. This is my original sign up post and I have linked all my reviews to it. If you want to see how others did with the challenge Ellie has posted a sign up on her blog.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Pure - Andrew Miller

In the time just before the French Revolution a young engineer is looking to make his way up in the world. Jean-Baptiste Baratte has been called by one of the King's ministers for a special job. Baratte is to go to Paris to clear out Les Innocents Cemetery which has been poising that area of the city despite being closed. Not exactly a glamorous job but Baratte intends to do it well. What he didn't expect was people to be upset by his task. As well as overcoming the problem of how to clear the cemetery Baratte must overcome all the people who are against the destruction of the cemetery. For some it is part of their world. It's where they work and live.

I had been looking forward to this but after the first few chapters (which are short) I was less than overwhelmed. I thought it was going to be extremely dull. I thought it was going to be a book reflecting on the run up to the French Revolution. Instead it was droning on about a cemetery and one very naive engineer. Thankfully it picked up and political unrest was there in the background.

I disliked Baratte at first for his naivety. I cringed as he allowed people to take advantage of him. He was naive about his place in life too believing that he was finally moving up in the world. Just a little pompous without any real reason to be. It didn't last long mind you and it took a crack on the head for him to wake up to the real world.

As work on the cemetery finally begins the pace of the writing and the story picks up to. The pace of political unrest also picks up but again this seems to be more a part of the back ground. For the sake of Baratte, who had grown on me, I couldn't wait for the task to be finished. At the same time I didn't want it to be over as it would mean saying goodbye to some very interesting characters. Bit of a change from my feelings about the book at the start. It will never be my favourite historical fiction but it grew on me and it still hasn't left my head.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Wonder Boys - Michael Chabon

Grady Tripp is a writer. He has had a few well received books and is now working on his latest called Wonder Boys. The problem is that he has been working on it the last seven years and can't seem to end it. Instead it keeps growing and at 2611 pages it's still nowhere near the end. Meanwhile he is teaching at the local college, his wife has left him and he is having an affair with his boss's wife, Sara. When Sara tells him she is expecting Grady has one of the strangest weekends in his life with one of his students in tow.

I've only ever read on other Chabon novel and I loved it. I knew this one was going to be very different so I read it with no expectations. Not as good as Kavalier and Clay but I still liked it. Grady isn't one of the most likeable of characters and yet I did. Everything that went wrong in his life was his own doing and yet I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. You want to give him a bit of a shake and tell him to grow up but then if he did this crazy weekend wouldn't have happened.

There isn't much of a line between Grady and his students. It's almost as though by going into teaching he is re-living his own student days. One of the girls has a crush on him and is living in his basement. Another is dragged along on Grady's mad weekend (to be fair this student did create a good bit of the madness). He spends most of his time working on his novel and smoking pot.

Chabon actually wrote this because he was was struggling with another novel himself. In that way alone he was Grady. The character of Grady was based on a teacher he had himself in the 80s. Scary but not hard to imagine that such a teacher existed. Mind you he must have been good at teaching as all of these students did seem to look up to him (well, all but one). Grady manages to keep his envy of these young talents to himself. Although to be fair to Grady it's not the destructive kind of envy.

The story itself is one of those that has you laughing and cringing at the same time. You want to hide your eyes from the situations Grady manages to get himself into and yet you want to carry on reading. It's well paced and over all too soon. If like me you have read Kavalier and Clay please don't even try to look for similarities. There are none other than it's a well written book. Looking forward to seeing what else Chabon has in his back list.

Friday 14 December 2012

His Last Bow & The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

More short stories featuring the famous Sherlock Holmes. In this case the stories are two volumes brought together. Once again Watson has been diligently recording his friends most famous cases, including some that had previously been banned by Holmes from public viewing. We hear of Holmes' last case and what he does after he leaves London for the country. As it is approaching WWI when Watson publishes these there are a few that involved Holmes' protecting State secrets. He even heads into the world of the supernatural and uncovers the truth about a vampire. Lastly, after years of berating Watson, Holmes has a go at writing up one of his cases himself.

I am actually quite sad that I have now finished all these tales. True there is a new one out written by Anthony Horrowitz but somehow it won't be the same (that's not to say I won't try it). I feel like I am saying goodbye to am old friend here and yet I read the vast majority of these books this year.

I am more pleased with the way Holmes left his career this time than I would have been had Final Solution been the last story. Better to have Holmes still out there somewhere. In this case he is in the country bee-keeping. In fact there is one story in there after his so called retirement. Holmes has to write this one out himself since Watson isn't on hand to do it for him.

I think I enjoyed these short stories slightly more than all the others. Possibly because I knew they were the last and so prized them more. However, I think it's also because they were slightly darker. The tales always did have a dark edge to them but with the approaching war Doyle was able to move away from trivial problems to ones that put the country in danger. Only Holmes stood between Britain and disaster. I quite liked that edge to them.

Now that I have finished them all I can go on to the films and tv adaptations. I have been looking forward to those but wanted to hold off. It will be interesting to see how they compare. If you haven't read any of these books I recommend that you do. Especially, the short stories. Don't be put off if you aren't a fan of classics or crime. I think most readers would get something out of them. I dare you not to pick it up and fall in love with Holmes.

Thursday 13 December 2012

League of Extraordinary Gentleman Challenge Overview

Bet you didn't think this post was every going to happen. Only been promising it for the last two months or so. However, I thought I would break up my review catch up a bit with this.

Way back in 2011 Hanna of Booking In Heels set up a challenge for 2012. The challenge was to read the books starring the characters from The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Although not a film I enjoyed I am a fan of the genres most of the characters came from. It was basically a chance for me to re-read some old favourites and to try some new ones. Here is a list of the books I read with the main character highlighted. Have also linked the titles to my reviews of them.

King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (Allan Quatermain)
Dracula by Bram Stoker (Mina Harker) Re-read
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (Captain Nemo)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer) Re-read
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stephenson (Jekyll/Hyde) Re-read
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Dorian Grey) Re-read
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (the phantom) Re-read
The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (Invisible man)
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Moriarty)

Only nine books and most of them weren't that long. I read one each month which meant that I finished the challenge in September. I was going to read the graphic novel however I am having to be careful with the pennies and in the end it just didn't appeal to me.

Over all I enjoyed the challenge. It was fun to return to old favourites. I was particularly reminded of how much I love Dracula. I also enjoyed trying Jules Verne again. Oh, and I have loved visiting all the Sherlock books in the build up to the one listed here (of course I kept going with those after the challenge title had been read). I even discovered that a book I wasn't too fond of before that I actually quite enjoyed this time round (looking at you Phantom). I was also surprised that I liked The Invisible Man as H. G. Wells has been a hit or a miss with me over the last few years. The only book I disliked the first time and still do was Dorian Gray (please don't hate me Oscar fans). In fact it's the only book on the list that I disliked at all and it was the one that put me off the challenge. As time to read it got closer I started to struggle with the challenge and could see myself giving up. Thankfully that didn't happen.

Would be interested to here what others think of these books on the list. Big thank you to Hanna for running the challenge. It has been interesting.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

The Valley of Fear - Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock is at home when he receives a letter from someone who works for Professor Moriarty. The letter is in code but it's not long before Sherlock has it all worked out. It's a warning that a Mr John Douglas is about to be murdered. He then receives a visit from Scotland Yard who come to deliver the news of John Douglas's death and ask him to come and unfold the mystery surrounding it. Holmes quickly agrees and travels to the Douglas home along with his good friend Watson. There they hear the stories of the dead mans wife, servant and friend. All the stories are the same and yet something doesn't quite add up. Of course it doesn't take Sherlock long to work out what exactly has gone on.

Supposedly not the best of the Holmes books. It's the last one that takes the form of a novella. However, it is criticised because Holmes is only in the first half of the book. Like the first two novella's Holmes uncovers the truth and then we get the back ground story of the individuals involved. In this case was travel back to America and a small town which is held in fear by a group belonging to the order, The Freemen (a play on the Freemasons).

Like in the previous two books I liked this division. It had a different style to it as we learn of John Douglas and how he became a hunted man. It was almost like reading a different book but at the same time you are constantly aware that it's about to reveal more of Holmes's initial mystery. I can agree that there wasn't enough of Holmes but at the same time I think the story would have lost something if this second section had been cut. It was very much part of the intrigue.

The parts of the book that did annoy me (very mildly) was when Moriarty was mentioned. The mystery must have been set before The Final Problem as the stand off between Moriarty and Holmes wasn't mentioned. Plus, according to Watson, this is the first he himself has heard of Moriarty. Yet, Watson was also first introduced to Moriarty in that short story. It was something I could live with and maybe my memory isn't as good and Watson had heard of Moriarty before the final stand off.

I still prefer the short stories but the novellas are still worth reading. It's an opportunity to see what else the author could do.

Monday 10 December 2012

Will Be Up To Date Eventually!

The last few months have been a struggle for me. Not in a personal sense I've just been struggling to juggle everything and this blog has suffered. It's been a constant game of catch up. Instead of admitting defeat and taking a time out I have tried to get myself up to date. Which of course I failed at miserably. Next time I will do what I did last year and take a time out.

I have had placement (almost finished), an essay (almost finished) and I am onto my second bout of the cold which actually left me in my bed for two days. I've never been so run down and I think stress has been a big part of it. To make matters worse I spilled tea over my laptop and had to re-do my essay from scratch. Thankfully the computer I managed to save but not until I had already re-done the essay. 

Sounds like a big long whine but that's not what I mean. Just explaining my absence. Fingers crossed I will be back to normal next week and I WILL catch up on all those reviews. More than that I am actually looking forward to picking up a non-nursing book. Hope everyone is enjoying the run up to the festive period. Looking forward to seeing what you have all been reading and what challenges you have signed up to for next year.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Ringworld - Larry Niven

Louis has left his own party celebrating his 200th birthday. He is bored and is thinking that it might be time to take one of his own adventures. As he contemplates this as he travels round Earth he somehow ends up in a room with a Puppeteer, an alien everyone believed had disappeared a long time ago. The Puppeteer, Nessus, has a task for Louis. He wants him to travel to a sun which has a metal ring constructed around it. The Puppeteers are a fearful race and they want him to find out if it will be a threat. Along with Speaker (a Kzin) and Louis' 29 year old girlfriend, Teela, they head out. There Louis and friends meet the unexpected and the strange. A world constructed by unknown beings and filled with plants and animals from other worlds.

I have to say that this wasn't my favourite sci fi book  that I have ever read. Having said that the more time passes the more favourably I look on it. My thoughts at the time were that it was far too simply written. I was expecting a piece of classic sci fi. What I got was something that was almost written for children (if you take out the discussions on mating). The dialogue and the language itself was very simple. On the plus side it did make it for an easy read and it made the technological aspects of it easier to take (for those who don't like the technobabble).

We all know that in sci fi and fantasy we have to sometimes take things with a pinch of salt or to just let reality go. I could do that with a metal world constructed round a sun with it's own oceans and mountains. I could do that with an alien race called Puppeteers (although it turns out that name is quite apt). I could do that with a 200 year old man having a relationship with a 20 year old (that really isn't new when you read Peter F. Hamilton). I could do that with sunflowers which store up sunlight and shoot at anything that moves. What I found difficult to take was that the human race had evolved luck. A lottery in place to allow people to have a second child (for population control) has meant that those who win it are lucky and this luck grows as it is passed genetically on to their children. That had me almost wanting to through the book across the room.

Glad I didn't though as I did enjoy the four characters travelling across the Ringworld. This part of the book was an interesting plotline. Ringworld is clearly a technological marvel however society has broken down on it. It makes for an interesting read. I also liked the interaction between the four characters and any of the people they found on Ringworld. People who have forgotten that their ancestors created the world they live on.

I do have to defend it a little from one review. I read one that said that they found it very sexist in terms of the relationship between Louis and Teela. I can see how they came to feel that but it wasn't the impression I got. Human's now have access to longevity treatment and so age differences in relationships don't matter so much. Like I mentioned earlier this really isn't new. Peter F. Hamilton and other authors have done something similar in their books. I also don't think Teela was portrayed as just a silly young girl. She said came across as just as intelligent and actually seemed to get things far faster than some of the others. I think that the point the author was trying to get across is that she is young with no responsibilities other than to enjoy everything out of life.

I read this as part of the sci fi challenge hosted by Ellie of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. It was for November's choice and I did read it last month. This is just the first opportunity I have had to get typing. If you want to see what others read last month you can do so here. Decembers choice is to read a sci fi book with a Christmas theme. I haven't picked my book yet and at this point in time I'm not sure I will have a chance to read one.

Monday 26 November 2012

1Q84: Bk 3 - Haruki Murakami

The last book in Murakami's trilogy. Both Aomame and Tengo are ins seclusion and both have someone after them. Both are continuously thinking of each other despite not having seen each other since they were children. Tengo is staying with his father who remains comatose in a hospital in an isolated town. He stays there longer than he originally planned just in the hopes of seeing another vision of Aomame. Even if that means he might become stranded there. Aomame is herself in hiding from the religious group she attacked. On her first night there she spotted Tengo in a park staring at the moon. She is now determined to stay there in the hopes that he will appear again. Even if that means her life is in danger.

I know, I know, I finally read the last book. I read the first two back in November last year. That's almost a year between reading (you can see my review for the first two here). I didn't lose my excitement or my enthusiasm for these books. I just really hate reading from hardbacks no matter how much I was looking forward to it. Anyway, I got there in the end.

You would think that because of the huge gap I would have forgotten everything. That's the way my mind normally works. I would usually have to read the first two again. This time I didn't have to. The book sort of gives a brief synopsis of what happened without you realising it's doing it. It's threaded into the story without being dull or annoying (some of those 'last time' chapters irritate me). Murakami was clearly thinking of people like me who hate those update starts but at the same time need them (am sure he wasn't really thinking of me but it makes me feel good to believe he was).

I have read in the last year that this third book doesn't quite live up to the others. I have to say I agree. Once again it was a slow start in true Murakami style. This time though it seemed even slower and I didn't think it was ever going to pick up. Maybe it was the introduction of a third characters point of view that slowed it down. I'm not totally convinced on that though as he was the only one that seemed to be creating any tension or excitement. Tengo and Aomame were just waiting for the majority of the book.

It did pick up eventually though and once again I was glued to the pages of the book. I do think this third character (who is only mentioned in the first two parts) had a big part in that. There comes a point where both Aomame and Tengo are under such close observation you can't put the book down for fear that something will happen without you.

You can call these books surreal, fantasy-like, alternate world and a number of other things. What I think it really comes down to is a love story. Aomame and Tengo made a connection as children. Now that their lives have crossed paths they are constantly in each others thoughts and all they want to do is to come together again.

Saturday 17 November 2012

The Return of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

In the last set of stories by Conan Doyle Sherlock had met his bitter end at the hands of his genius nemesis, Moriarty. Or so we thought. The first of these short stories brings the return of Sherlock Holmes as he tells Watson how he managed to escape his enemy whilst solving the seemingly unsolvable. As a result we are treated to more tales of the wonderful Sherlock by the pen of his trusted friend, Watson.

Yay! Sherlock is back. Although I wasn't quite sure how that was going to happen. The first of these three short stories is set three years after the events of the last one in the previous collection. We hear all about Holmes and his adventures. What we don't hear is what happened to Watson in all that time. The reason I am curious is that the tales that follow Watson seems to be again living with his friend. There is no mention of his wife or of his practice. Did he leave both for Holmes? Not that I could blame him but I would like to know.

The next 12 stories follows the same style as the rest. Not that I am complaining as I could never be bored of them. There is no puzzle too small or too large so long as Holmes finds it interesting. He saves the country from war, saves a man from hanging, discovers who stole and exam paper and saves a lady from being forced into a marriage.

Holmes himself seems a bit more human in these tales. His three years away seem to have mellowed him somewhat. He no longer takes drugs to save him from boredom (although that threat is always there) and he is more tolerant of people. He even seems to like Lestrade although is amused by his deductions.

I read this as part of the classics challenge hosted by Katherine of November's Autumn. This months prompt is to look back over the last year. I am supposed to pick my favourite from among the classics I have read but I am finding that difficult. I enjoyed most of them. Virginia Woolf is probably the author I am most likely to go back and visit again as I loved Mrs Dalloway. I would also read more by Elizabeth Gaskell. I loved Villette too and I was reminded of how much I enjoy the Bronte sisters. Muriel Spark is another author I am determined to go back to. I am glad I chose The Bell as my first Iris Murdoch as I loved it but didn't so much love The Sea, The Sea which I read later. A Connecticut Yankee In New York by Mark Twain is the only one that I struggled with. That's more because of my mood at the time rather than the book itself.

Best character would have to be Sherlock Holmes. I have said it many times already but I am going to say it again. I'm a little bit in love with him. I am going to be sad when I finished all those books. Mind you, I plan on the films and tv show next. I am afraid I have been poor at visiting other participants. I haven't really got a plan from others posts as to what I am going to read next year. I did visit at the start of the year but things got on top of me.

Friday 16 November 2012

11.22.63 - Stephen King

Jake Epping is an English teacher in Maine. He is one of the good ones. A teacher who genuinely cares for his students and loves his job. Other than that there is nothing really special about him. Apart from one thing. The owner of his local diner has asked him to do a special favour. He wants him to go back in time and prevent the Kennedy assassination believing it will correct everything that is wrong with the world. Epping is disbelieving of his friend until he steps through the portal at the back of the diner and finds himself in the 1950's. Jake accepts the task but what he doesn't expect to find is love, friendship and a town that he would love to call home.

I picked this book as my one and only Halloween read this year. I would loved to have picked out more but with the readathon and other things I left it too late. I was a tiny bit dubious about this one having been very disappointed with Under The Dome. Despite so many people raving about this one (including my non-horror loving friend) I still had a wee niggle of doubt.

Thankfully I had no reason to worry. True, the book didn't quite match up to all the raving but I still enjoyed it. It wasn't just a simple time travel story. It was a story of friendship, a story of morals and a story of love. Like all King books there are some lovely characters in there and some not so lovely ones. All of them had one thing in common though and that was depth. It's one of the things that keeps me going back to King is his ability to characterise.

I wouldn't exactly call it a horror story. It had some horrible characters, as I mentioned, but it didn't quite follow the supernatural element that King is famous for. There was references to some of his other books mind you. When he does that it always leaves me with a chill. There is a certain town mentioned in this one that all veteran King fans will recognise (I am saying no more).

The only down side is that it dragged a little. I liked the sections of Epping making a life fore himself in a small town. When he would go back to stalking Oswald I felt I was reluctantly dragged with him as I wanted Epping to stay in the town and be happy. Of course that wouldn't make for much of a story. It does pick up again and eventually both lives lead by Epping collide.

If you are like me and haven't been quite so enamored by some of King's newer books then set those doubts aside and read on. It won't be like his classics but it's still a good read.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Books To Die For - John Connolly

This book is an anthology of essays collected and edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke. They have brought together a collection from some of the most current and famous crime writers. The subject of these essays is their favourite crime story. Basically this is a collection about crime writing by crime authors.

This was the book that I wanted to have it's own review. What attracted me to it in the first place was the cover. This image really doesn't do it justice. It's a beautiful clothe bound edition and it stood out from all the other new books around it in the library. I couldn't leave without it. The second thing that attracted me was that John Connolly was one of the editors and, once I read the blurb, the subject intrigued me.

I have been reading crime a couple of years now. Probably just slightly longer than this blog has been running. So I can't really call myself a newbie to the genre anymore. However, reading this book made me realise just how little I have read in regards to crime. There were authors I had heard of but never read and then a good number of authors and stories I had never heard of. Then there were books described that I probably wouldn't have considered trying if it weren't for this book. What it comes down to is that this book is a great guide for people who enjoy the genre and maybe want to read a bit more or try new authors.

As I said, each of the essays is written by a different author and the are relatively short. They all have their own style too. For the most part I enjoyed them all. It was interesting reading another crime writers insight into the genre. A few mentioned that their favourite book was their first foray into crime and probably wouldn't have been inspired to write it if they hadn't read it. Most of them has me wanting to read the books that they describe. I confess that I got a little excited when I came across a book that I had read myself. It was interesting to read what someone else thought of it.

Each essay begins with a small piece about the author of the book that's about to be describe. And each ends with a short piece about the author who wrote the essay. This just added to my interest and meant that I got to learn a lot more about the writers than I thought I would have to begin with. I read this from cover to cover but I don't think you have to read it that way. It's the type of book that you can dip in and out of. Particularly if you are looking for inspiration.

I was a little sad when I returned it to the library and I think I will have to eventually buy a copy of it so I can refer back to it.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

The Greatest Show On Earth - Richard Dawkins

This book was written as proof to non-believers that evolution did happen. It doesn't just talk about human evolution but uses evidence from all forms of life. It goes back to other natural scientists and expands on what they said as well as continuing with it.

In truth I found this book to be hard going. I may not read a lot of popular science but I do like science. The science parts in my own studies are hands down the most interesting (next to psychology and sociology of health). However, I just couldn't get into this book. It was like one very long and hard slog.

Don't get me wrong. There were parts of it that I found very interesting. Such as the evolution of flowers. Not the human splicing of the flowers but how they evolved in order to attract insects. When shown from different spectrum's seemingly plain flowers have a pattern to them in order to attract insects. Some even have a sort of runway that leads the insect to the pollen. I found all that fascinating and of course there were other areas of interest. He would then put in long quotes and sometimes philosophies and I would drift off again. Granted I was probably still in light read mode but I was still a little disappointed with it.

I think I was also put off by the start of the book. Now I am in no way shape or form a creationist. My religious dad had a way of explaining creationism and still believed in science, the big bang, evolution and the dinosaurs. The religion part didn't rub off on me but the science did. I can understand Dawkins frustrations over the growth of creationism and the removal of evolution being taught in the classroom (which, according to Dawkins, is becoming an issue here in the UK). However, I felt that the first chapter on this bordered on the patronising. It was almost like he was saying you are all stupid and I am going to make you read this book to prove it. Not the best way to try to convince someone they are wrong. That may have been just my impression of that introduction to the book but it was enough to irritate me and want to toss the book aside. Imagine how a non-believer would feel.

Without that I think it could have been a fantastic book but just not one for me. I guess I like my science to be a little lighter when I am reading for pleasure. Or maybe I just like the pathophysiology of science.

I read this as part of the Mixing It Up challenge. This was the last book for that challenge and it was for the science category. I am actually a little sad that I finished it. However, also glad as it has freed me up to choose random books from my tbr pile depending on my mood. If you want to see what else I read for this challenge you can see my original post with links to reviews here. I will be posting a round up of the challenge as soon as I have more time (I've still to do the round up for the league challenge too).

Tuesday 13 November 2012

No One Left To Tell - Karen Rose

Paige is training to be a PI. Not long after her training begins she is asked by a woman to look into the imprisonment of her son. Along with her daughter in law, she believes that he was set up to take the blame for the murder of a young girl five years before. Paige has her doubts but agrees to take the case. When the son's wife is murdered trying to bring back information Paige loses her doubts and decides to do her best to clear his name. This puts her in danger as someone doesn't want anyone revealing the real murderer or the sordid reasons behind it.

First of all I had intended on more mini reviews but I have one or two books in that list that I need to review independently because they are part of a challenge or because they deserve their own reviews. So I will have to catch up without cheating.

This is one of the latest (if not the latest) book by Karen Rose. I had started to read them in order but this was one of those books I picked up on a whim. To be honest it's not the best of her books but it was perfect for what I needed at the time.

I was able to guess early on who was behind the real murder and some of the reasons behind it. Although I didn't guess the full extent of the crime. Guessing that early on didn't matter though. It's how Paige and Grayson got there that mattered. As they uncovered the mystery they also broke down their barriers and fell in love. Atypical of Rose's formula for her books with an obvious set up for a future book on another tortured couple.

Again that didn't bother me because, as I said, it was what I needed at the time. I needed something light (take out some of the violent content and you get light). I needed something that I didn't need to think about. Most importantly I needed something with characters I could engage in that would allow me to escape from exams and starting a new placement. That is exactly what I got and as a result I enjoyed it. I looked forward to heading home and picking this up.

If you like a wee bit of crime with a bit of romance  thrown in then this is ideal. If you haven't read Karen Rose before though start with her earlier books. I'll be going back to where I left off with those next time.

Monday 12 November 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Once again it has been a while since I have taken part. Mainly because the last few weeks I have had a shift on a Monday. I'm also a wee bit behind on my blogging. Thanks to four mini reviews today though I am slowly catching up. I'm only going to post about the one week as it would take too long to add them all up since the last time I took part.

Last week I read;

Books to Die For by John Connolly. I had been reading this on and off for the past month or so. It's a hefty paperback so I only read it at home. Worth taking my time over though and now that I have finished I want my own copy (borrowed this from the library).

11.22.63 by Stephen King. I started this as a Halloween read and just finished it last week. Very much enjoyed it. I don't think it quite stands up to all the raving there has been about it but still one of the better recent King books.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. I read this as this months classic choice. I decided to go with something I knew I would love. I wasn't disappointed. I love Sherlock.

Just now I am reading;

1Q84 book 3 by Haruki Murakami. It's been about a year since I read book 1 and 2. Thankfully the story has come back to me. Bit of a slow start but once again it picks up as it goes on. Almost finished it now.

Next I plan to read;

Ringworld by Larry Niven. This is my choice for the sci fi challenge. I went to the library to pick it out not really knowing what I wanted. I decided on this as it's one of those classic sci fi that people seem to rave about. Looking forward to it.

If I get finished with those I will probably move on to the last two Sherlock Holmes books. Will be sad to finish the series but I bet I will re-read them at some point.

Mini Reviews

Almost two weeks into November and I have still to do any posts (other than October's overview). Even more shocking is the lack of opportunity I've had to visit some of my favourite book blogs. I managed to do that a little this afternoon and as a result came across a fab post by Ellie of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. If you like book covers as much as I do then check out this post about book covers matching her blogs colour scheme. Ooh and ahh over the pretty!

Onwards to some mini-reviews, finally! Most of these were from the readathon which was over a month ago now. Serve me right for deciding not to post them on the night this time. We live and learn.

 A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

Barnaby is the loser of the family. Having been sent to military school after being caught stealing from the neighbours he takes on the black sheep role and does it well. His parents no longer have expectations of him and instead nag him to do something better with his life. Barnaby however, insists on embarrassing the family by living in a basement, having almost no relationship with his daughter and working as a manual laborer.

I quite liked Barnaby from the first page. He might revel a little in being the black sheep but really he is a nice guy. His job involves helping elderly neighbours and we learn through out the book he goes above and beyond the call of duty. His family might not think much of him but he later learns that his friends, colleagues and clients do. A nice read and a reminder of why I should read more of Anne Tyler. It's not too taxing but the characters have depth and colour.

 Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs

Temperance has been called out to investigate some bones found in the basement of a pizza parlour. Hoping that it's just the bones of some animals she instead discovers the remains of three young girls. Local police see it as a cold case and show no interest. Temperance however, is convinced that the bones are more recent and that the girls deserve to be identified. Tempe decides to investigate on her own and discovers that the girls may have been kept captive and tortured for a long time before death. As she continues to investigate her own life and the life of her friend is put in danger.

Another good read from Kathy Reichs. I have to be honest though. I am more than a little bored of the 'will they, won't they' story line between Tempe and Andrew Ryan. Also in the last few books Tempe has mentioned her worries about her daughter. You expect her (or at least I did) to go into a bit more detail but she never does. That aside the investigation and the main plot line is interesting enough to keep me going. Still not bored of this series.

 Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked by Derek Landy

Mortals are all of a sudden developing magical abilities. Abilities that they shouldn't have and have no idea how to control it. People are being hurt as a result. To make matters worse the Irish sanctuary is now under scrutiny from sanctuaries across the world. They have little faith in their ability to control the situation due to recent events. Skulduggery and Valkyrie must find out who is behind this, stop it and prevent mortals from discovering their existence.

Although this is part of one series the series can actually be split up into trilogies. This one is the first part of the final trilogy which means there is only two books in the series left. I have to say that this wasn't my favourite book. I found that it dragged on a bit and was maybe a little longer than it needed to be. It's still worth reading though for the action and the banter between Valkyrie and Skulduggery. The ending though was fantastic and has meant that I am now excited about the next one which I can't wait for. I can't tell you about it without spoiling it but it's a story line that's been on the cards for a number of books now and one I have been waiting for.

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler

Delia is fed up. For years her family have taken her for granted. She hadn't noticed it before but recently she discovers that she isn't really heard. Her feelings build up until one day on holiday she gets up and walks away thinking no one will notice. She finds a small town and is surprised by how easy it is to start a new life with a new identity. With out meaning to she develops new friendships and discovers something about herself.

Unlike the first Anne Tyler book among these reviews this one was a little slow at starting. We know from the piece on the back that Delia walks away from her family but it takes time before that happens. To the point that I was thinking *just hurry up and do it already*. As soon as she does though I began to enjoy the slow pace of the book. Reading it from Delia's point of view it doesn't seem selfish of her to abandon her family and children. In fact it seems that her children don't need her anymore which is one of her reasons for leaving. She needs to feel needed and in this new town she has that. In the end I probably enjoyed this one a little more. Will definitely not be leaving it years before I pick up another Anne Tyler.

Saturday 3 November 2012

October Overview/ Month Ahead!

These last few months have flow in so quickly, or is it just me? This month feels particularly fast but I think that has something to do with that I am now back on placement and will be there until Christmas. I am still managing to get some reading done. The place I am at works on 13 hour shifts so by the time I get home I head straight to bed with my book. I am quite enjoying that though. The only down side is that I am far behind in my reviews. So far behind I am thinking of compiling some of them into mini reviews just so I can catch up. I will probably do this with the readathon books although it seems a shame to do that since I did enjoy those books.

Thanks to the readathon I managed a total of 9 books which is the most I have read in a month since May. Speaking of readathon I raised £176 for SAMH. Big thank you to those who donated and cheered me on. I also finished another challenge (again, still to review that last book). So that will be two challenge overviews I will have to do. Last year in October I asked everyone for Halloween read suggestions and basically read not much else for that month. I would have liked to have done the same this year but October crept up on me unawares. Plus I very much want to get through the rest of my tbr pile by the end of this year. So at the end of the month I picked up a Stephen King from that pile which I should finish over the next few days.

Enough blabbering here is what I read this month;

1. The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
2. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - Mark Twain
3. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
4. A Patchwork World - Anne Tyler
5. Monday Mourning - Kathy Reichs
6. Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked - Derek Landy
7. Ladder of Years - Anne Tyler
8. No One Left To Tell - Karen Rose
9. The Greatest Show On Earth - Richard Dawkins

At one point I was reading 3 books at once this month (two of which I still have on the go). That's because I was reading The Greatest Show On Earth and at home I needed something light since I was too tired for anything else hence the Karen Rose and now Stephen King. The other book I am reading is a book of essays about crime writers. It's a huge hardback so not the easiest book to carry around.

My favourite book this month is a tie between Ender's Game and A Patchwork World. A Patchwork World has a slight edge over the sci fi just because it was nice to come back to an author I had read once before and rediscover how good she is. Least favourite was The Greatest Show On Earth. I found it a little dull and in the beginning a little patronising too.

Challenge Overview

 For October I chose A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain. It hasn't been my favourite book of this challenge so far. I think though that was entirely down to the mood I was in. I was wanting something that was entirely humour filled and instead I got tongue in cheek with a serious undertone. At another time I would have loved it. This month I am going to go with The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. I've loved all the other ones and I see no reason why I won't love this one.
 For the sci fi challenge I read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card which was one of my favourite reads for October. When I signed up for this challenge this was one book that was a definite must. Glad I managed to get a hold of a copy. With any luck I will be able to get my hands on the rest of the series. I haven't picked a title for the challenge this month. No more sci fi books in my tbr pile. I may join in the group choice or see what the library has on offer (due a wee visit).
This is the challenge I finished this month. I finished it with The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins for the science category. Not my favourite book ever. I usually enjoy the science side of things but in this case I found it a little dull. Maybe because I was too busy to concentrate properly but I also didn't like Dawkins tone at the beginning of the book. It feels strange not to have another category to chose from. However, I have enjoyed this challenge quite a bit and look forward to sharing an overview of it.

So that has been my month. Fairly busy and hectic but it was still a good one. Other than my classic title I'm not sure what I will read this month. I keep changing my mind. There are a few on my tbr pile that I am looking forward to reading. I am thinking that it is more than time that I read the third installment of 1Q84. I'll probably read that alongside the Sherlock Holmes since it's another hardback. I also have a few chunky books to read. Has everyone else had a good October?

Sunday 28 October 2012

Playing Catch Up!

Wow, I have a lot of catching up to do. This time it was not because I have been busy elsewhere. Well, I am busy elsewhere but it's not the main reason. I haven't had internet access for the last wee while and it's only now back to normal. Hopefully I will soon catch up with all my reviews. However I have something like 6 to do and I am on placement doing 13 hour shifts. So I may have to do some mini ones. Hope everyone is well though.

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card

Ender has been watched from a very early age. His brother and sister are also geniuses but they failed to make the cut. Now Ender is the last hope. Only he can stop the alien's who once devastated Earth from doing so again. First though he has to be put through some rigorous training and testing at military school. All rule book is thrown out the window in order to test Ender to the fullest. However, if pushed too far they could break him which would mean all is lost.

I wasn't sure what I was expecting with this book. I just knew that sci fi and non sci fi fans seem to love it. Glad to say that I enjoyed it too. Surprising considering this book is about a 6 year old genius who is expected to go through military training and save the world.

Yet, love it I did. The premise does seem a bit rediculous. No matter how intelligent Ender is a 6 year old doesn't have the emotional intelligence to go through what he was put through. I was able to get past that though because Ender was such an engaging character. Occasionally he would come across as a 6 year old who has been taken to a strange place and won't see the people he loves for years to come. This is shown on his first night when he has been deliberately isolated from his class mates.

The majority of the book is set in the military school. As Ender becomes used to something (and as the reader becomes used to the situation too) those in charge deliberately through in challenges or change the rules so that Ender has no time to get comfortable. In this way the reader also has no time to get comfortable. You don't want Ender to have to deal with more challenges for the characters own sake but these challenges keep the book pacing along.

About a third of the way through we see things from the point of view from Ender's equally intelligent brother and sister. Peter is cruel with a hard side which was why he failed to make the cut. Something he has been bitter about. Valentine is loving and caring, too soft which was why she failed. Peter though plans to use his intelligence to manipulate the political scene on Earth with Valentine's help. Through them this gives us a good idea of the history of Earth and it's politics. In this way we are given a bigger view instead of just Ender's need to prove himself and defeat the aliens.

I very much enjoyed it as a whole and enjoyed each of the characters, the good and the bad. I understand this is just the first book in a series and I think that I will be reading the rest at some point. It was a relatively easy read. I can see why my local library classed it as YA. I also think that the non-sci fi fans may like it for it's psychology and political aspects. I read this as part of the sci fi challenge hosted by Ellie of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. If you want to see what others have been reading you can do so here.

Monday 15 October 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Thanks to two weeks and a readathon I have quite a list of finished reads to share. Feels like I have actually achieved something this month.

I finished reading;

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I liked this but I don't think I will ever be a huge fan of this writing style.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain. I read this for the classics challenge. Was disappointed but that had more to do with my expectations and my mood at the time of reading.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I read this for the sci fi challenge. I LOVED it. Was very sorry when I finished it. Could have kept reading.

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler. This was the first of the readathon books. Very much enjoyed it. Just a nice read.

Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs. Annoyed me in sections but still enjoyed it overall. Able to ignore the annoying bits for the most part.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked by Derek Landy. Not as good as the others. However, the ending was brilliant.

Just now I am reading;

Books to Die For edited by John Connolly. Just reading a bit at a time but have enjoyed reading what authors think of other authors.

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler. I started this in the last hour of the readathon. It was a little slow in starting but I'm getting into it now.

Next I plan to read;

The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins. This is my last book in the Mixing It Up Challenge. Not usually a popular science book person so it will be interesting to see what it's like.

Anyone else had a good reading week thanks to the readathon?