Tuesday 31 July 2012

July Overview/ Month Ahead.

Surely it isn't August already? That actually means my blog is coming up for two. I would have organised a giveaway but this blogaversary has crept up on me unawares. I will come up with something in a few weeks when I have actual time to myself. So watch out for that.

Another quiet reading month. I spent far more time than I wanted on Century Rain. Not in a good way. It was annoying me how slow it was. So I blame that for another low book count. Still some books in there that I very much enjoyed though.

1. London - Edward Rutherfurd
2. The Leopard - Tomasi Di Lampedusa
3. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
4. The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux
5. Century Rain - Alastair Reynolds
6. Pigeon English - Stephen Kelman
7. Snowdrops - A. D. Miller

As much as I enjoyed most of these books it is fairly easy to pick a favourite. It has to be London by Edward Rutherfurd. It was a fantastic historical fiction. Not quite as good as his New York but I still loved it. A book that took me a few weeks to read as it was so huge and I didn't mind it for a moment. My least favourite was Snowdrops. I haven't reviewed it yet so I won't go in to detail but it was a fairly bleak view of Russia with a dull plot.

Challenge Overview

 Last month I chose to read the Leopard which I loved. I would say it's a nice change for a classic but this year I have been reading a lot of classic authors that I have never read before. I even participated in the classic prompt this time. I will definitely be taking part this month too as I will have more time on my hands very soon (two weeks and counting). I am now reading my next classics choice which is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I am loving it so far. Hadn't planned on reading it this month but a fellow blogger highly recommended it (thank you FBT).
 I was so down on this challenge last month and hard to feel motivated. I was actually tempted to give up. Thankfully I didn't and surprised myself by very much enjoying The Phantom of the Opera. A book I didn't enjoy the first time I read it a few years back. Next up is The Invisible Man. Have never read this so I am looking forward to it.
 It was the horror category this month and I probably stretched it a little by choosing Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It does have some element of horror though and it was a good read. This months category is sci fi/ fantasty. I have decided to go with fantasy as I have a book that's been lying there for years. The Sorcerer's Treason by Sarah Zettel. I may also read the travel category as I don't think I can wait to read the Bill Bryson.
I went with my own choice this month which was Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds. I picked it because I had read the group choice, Fahrenheit 451, plus I have a few sci fi books that have been sitting a while on my tbr pile. Glad it's out the way. Whilst I did like it I think I have gone off the whole space opera theme. Not sure what the group choice is but I think I am going to go with a book I picked up last week. It's Peter F. Hamilton's short stories, Manhattan In Reverse. I realise he is also a space opera writer but it is from a series of his books that I loved. Plus it will let me know once and for all if I have went off Alastair Reynolds or the genre.

Other than that I have no plans. I enjoyed a wee unplanned trip to the library last month so maybe I will have another this month. otherwise it's a case of working through my tbr pile which I seem to be getting there with.   In case you haven't guessed I have some time off in a few weeks and I plan to read my head off. I have a few chunkies sitting there so I might dust those off.

Any one got some holiday reading plans?

Monday 30 July 2012

Century Rain - Alastair Reynolds

Verity Auger is an Archaeologist who spend her time searching Paris for tokens from the past. The Earth has been desolated after humans tried to clean up the atmosphere using nanotechnology. It all went horribly wrong and the nano's took over. The Earth is covered in a sheet of ice and to come in contact with the nano's can mean death. Verity almost kills her team in one of her searches and is afterwards given a choice. Face a tribunal or head through a portal to Earth2. On Earth2 it is 1959 although it is much like the 1930's of Earth1. There was no WWII and as a result technology isn't where it should be and fascism is once again on the rise. Verity must go there to collect the belongings of murdered agent, Susan White.

I used to love Space Opera novels and Reynolds was one of my favourites. Like the last one I read I found that whilst I liked it I was also a little bored by it and the book didn't push on fast enough. In this case there was just far too much going on. There was a war between two species of humans, conspiracies, an Earth2 human investigating Susan White's murder and then Verity's own investigation. It was just too much with long boring periods in the middle and a rush at the end. In all honesty the rush at the end was the best part.

There were still parts of it I enjoyed. I liked the Paris setting with it's 1930's feel. Every so often you would get a reminder that it was supposed to be 1959. When Verity finally arrived on Earth 2 and the action started I enjoyed that too. I think maybe because then the pace picked up and the story became interesting.

In any case I think I will leave off Reynolds for a while. This was the last of his books in my tbr pile. I have a few Peter F. Hamilton's there. So I will see how I feel about those before I leave off the Space Opera novels all together. It's definitely not the sci fi itself though as I have been enjoying that over the last year.

I read this for the sci fi challenge hosted by Ellie of Curiousity Killed The Bookworm. The book was supposed to be Fahrenheit 451 but as I have read it before I picked out one from my tbr pile. Almost wish I had read it again. Anyways, you can read what others read here

Sunday 29 July 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

I have been slow in reading only to do almost nothing but read over the weekend. I have been very lazy in my book reviews though and done none so have a little bit of catching up to do this week.

This week I read;

Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds. I read this as my choice for the sci fi challenge. Could have been a good book but far to much going on.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman. Found the child narrator to be irritating at first. Also a little repetitive but in the end I liked it.

Snowdrops by A. D. Miller. Was disappointed with this one. Painted a very bleak picture of Russia and in the end the plot was boring and obvious.

Just now I am reading;

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthrone. I am reading this for the classics  challenge. I have only just started it but I am enjoying it so far.

Next I plan to read;

The Sorcerer's Treason by Sarah Zettel. I am reading this for the mixing it up challenge. It's for the sci fi/fantasy category. A friend bought this for me years ago which is why I decided to pick it up for this rather than my usual sci fi. It's about time I read it.

Honestly, I spent most of my weekend reading. Anyone else have a reading weekend or have you been glued to the olympics?

Monday 23 July 2012

July Book Purchases!

I seem to stick to buying four books a month. I think I can keep up with that and still get my tbr pile down. Here are this months book purchases.

11.22.63 - Stephen King
The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Manhattan In Reverse - Peter F. Hamilton
A Walk In The Woods - Bill Bryson

The King book is one that I have heard a lot of good things about. It has to be better than Under the Dome. So I am very much looking forward to that. I saw a review of The Scarlet Letter on FBT's blog, Kill Me If I Stop (a great blog, especially if you like classics). It sounded right up my street so this is going to be my choice for next months classic challenge. The Hamilton book is again one I have been looking forward to. As for the Bryson, I have enjoyed his autobiography and thought it is about time I tried some of his travel. I am keeping it though for the travel category in the Mixing It Up challenge.

On a whim I also took a wee trip to the library and got out these books. I'll be reading them next.

Sunday 22 July 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. It's a fun way for everyone to share their reading week. I'm going to do two weeks in one as I got distracted last week.

The last fortnight I have read;

The Leopard by Tomasi Di Lampedusa. An Italian classic which I read for the classics challenge. I loved it. It had such a sad atmosphere.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I read this for the Mixing It Up challenge. I very much enjoyed it. Been a long time since I came across a YA this good.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I read this for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge. This was my re-read. I liked it better this time round than I did the first time.

Just now I am reading;

Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds. This is my choice for the sci fi challenge. I am enjoying it but have been slow in reading it as I have been distracted by other things (such as crafting).

Next I plan to read;

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman. I picked this up in the library over the weekend. I read a couple of pages and I think I will very much enjoy it. Looking forward to it. Plus it's not for any challenges.

What abou you? What have you been reading the last few weeks?

Tuesday 17 July 2012

The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux

Underneath the cellars of the famous Opera house there lives a ghost. A ghost which has the new managers at their wits end. A ghost that is also perceived as the Angel of Music by young singer Christine Daae. Her father told her he would send her an Angel to teach her to sing as he did. As it would turn out this ghost is no Angel but a monster who is determined that Christine Daae will belong to him and no one else. This puts the Viscount of Chagny in danger. A childhood friend of Daae he finds her again as she takes the stage and wows the audience with a voice no one ever suspected her of having. The Viscount's attentions are met with great jealousy from the ghost and he threatens everyone if Daae does not promise herself to him.

I have memories of being bored by this book the first time I read it. This is why I became so reluctant to finish this challenge. It would be the second re-read that I didn't enjoy the first time. I had hoped with Dorian Gray that I would find that I enjoyed it the second time but this didn't happen. So I didn't see it happening with this one. I don't know what I was thinking the first time I read this book because this time I loved the book.

I loved the whole mystery behind the ghost. I still remember the details of the story from my first reading (I have seen the film but I am sure it doesn't have everything from the book). However, I was seeing it with the new eyes I had hoped I would see Dorian Gray with.

I loved this monster who lived beneath the Opera House. How can you not feel sympathy for someone who was shunned and hidden by his own parents who couldn't stand to look at him? Of course that doesn't excuse him for some of the deplorable things he did and from his past. In the end though he only wanted to be loved or accepted. Each time he was accepted he was threatened or chased away. It's quite sad really. I guess he saw in Daae a quiet, sweet soul who might actually see him for more than a scarred face.

I actually liked him more than his rival, Raoul Chagny as he was just a little bit whiny and demanding. Very much like a spoiled child and the one time Daae stood up to him I wanted to applaud. I would have quite happily have lived without him in the book but then there wouldn't have been much of a story really.

The book was a great mystery and I wish I had loved it as much the first time round. I liked the fact that it wasn't just about this singer and her Angel of Music. I especially liked the details of the Opera ghost getting one over on the new management. Yes, I am rooting for the bad guy here and I'm okay with that.

As I said I read this for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge. Funnily enough the character to focus on is the Phantom himself. I am sure he was a bad guy in the film too. Not that this surprises me. He always did seem to fall in with a bad crowd. If I remember his character in the film though his original version is much more eloquent. I think I prefer him in the book. Just two more books in this challenge to go. Both unread before and I am looking forward to them. This challenge is hosted by Hanna of Booking In Heels and you can see others reviews of the various the challenge focuses on here.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

Jacob has been brought up on the strange and wonderful tales from his grandfathers childhood. He tells of the monsters he ran away from and the refuge of the home on an island near Wales. Jacob believes every word but as he grows older he begins to doubt despite the photographs his grandfather had to prove how special all the children in the home were. When Jacob's grandfather dies all these stories comes crashing back into nightmare. Jacob begins to believe in them again causing him to doubt his own sanity. His only way of finding some closure is to head over to Wales and get some answers of his own.

I think what makes this book stand out is that it's not just the words that tell the story. The photographs interspersed through out are a big part of it. I think I read somewhere that it was initially going to be a picture book with just the photographs. There are collectors through out the world that pick up these odd photographs from markets and church stalls. The author was able to borrow some for this story.

The story itself seems straight forward enough. Jacob and his parents believe that the monsters his grandfather was running from were the Nazis who were believed to have killed his family. By describing it that way it allowed his grandfather to tell his story without feeling some of the pain. The refuge of the home would seem like a wonderful place after those horror's. However, the reader gets caught up when Jacob believes he has seen one of the monsters his grandfather had described. As he wonders whether the monsters were actual or not so do we. As his parents (and even himself to some extent) doubts his stability of mind I felt the frustration he must have felt. Especially since his parents continued this doubt right to the end.

Jacob then lands in Wales. I have to say that I wasn't completely convinced by it. I can't quite put my finger on it but I don't think the Welsh part was done very well. It's my only criticism though and since I have never been to Wales I can't be too critical. The book then takes a turn into a mix between horror and fantasy. It has a little bit of everything. Monsters, children with strange abilities, time travel and  teachers with the ability to change into animals. I quite liked it and I liked the pace of it.

I am guessing that this is probably a YA book (glad I didn't realise that at the time when I picked it up). However, it is one of the better YA I have read in a long time. It was easy to read and I probably would have read it in one setting had I been allowed to read instead of work.

I read this as part of the Mixing it up challenge hosted by Ellie of Musings of a Bookshop Girl. This is for the horror category. Clutching at straws a little but it does contain monsters which eat people. I am still on track with this challenge (next category is sci fi/fantasy). You can see how I am doing here.

Monday 16 July 2012

Classics Challenge July Prompt

Ta da! An actual response to one of the classics challenge prompts. I only missed out two months mind you but it feels like longer.

So this months prompt we could choose any book that we have read for the challenge so far. The prompt is to write about a part of the book (whether it is a moment, quote or character) which will stay with you for a long time even after the details of the book itself has left. I could have chosen any of the books I have read so far. For example I would have chosen A Tale of Two Cities for its ending. Or any number for their character (Jean Brodie, Huckleberry Finn, D'Artagnan and Dora Greenfield to name but a few). However, I have decided to go with this months read. It seems only fair.

I don't do quotes and the characters aren't particularly memorable to be honest. Not even the grand old Prince of Salina. What will stay with me is the atmosphere of the book itself. The golden years of the Prince and his family is told at the height of summer and it steadily declines as change takes place through out the winter. Despite the years that pass the summer described at the start of the book never seems to return. It gives it a feeling of sadness. I can almost imagine the garden at the start of the book filled with flowers and bees. I think this is what I will remember most as it sets up the book well.

This is a challenge organised by Katherine of November's Autumn. You can see what others have chosen for the prompt here. You can also see my review of this book here.

Sunday 15 July 2012

The Leopard - Tomasi Di Lampedusa

The Prince of Salina in Sicily loves his family and his home. He is loved by both his family and his people. There he isn't just a prince but a King. His way of life is threatened though by the invasion of the red shirts. Sicily must become part of Italy. As he tries to accept it and go with the times he is aware that to do so means that what he loves very well may be lost.

Again it was my classics loving friend who recommended this one. It's set in the 1860's and was published after the death of the author. I do believe that Di Lampedusa could almost have been telling the tale of his own family.

The book is well written. It starts with the Prince during his golden age. His family may irritate him at times but he loves them and they listen to him. His people also look up to him. It then follows on with Garibaldi landing on Sicily and his way of life begins to change. It means the end for the line of the Prince of Salina. The book is able to portray this through the decline of the Prince himself. As he accepts it and doesn't fight it he watches slowly as the things he loves ebbs away. Things begin to happen that would never have happened before. Such as the marriage of his beloved nephew to a beautiful but common girl. As these two are courting and play games round the grounds and home of the Salina we also see the decline of the times. Many of these rooms are much forgotten and lost to time.

As a result of this the book has an air of sadness almost from the start. These are people of privilege residing over villages of commoners. Despite that you can't help but feel for the Prince. The change is inevitable and the Prince accepts that without a fight so there isn't that edge of action. Had there been that it would have changed the entire tone of the book. I think this is one that will stay with me for a long time.

Another Vintage cover but not my favourite this time although it does fit with the book. The symbol of the house of Salina is the Leopard. It's found throughout the book. The Prince often compares himself to the leopard even in his decline.

I read this as part of the classics challenge hosted by Katherine of November's Autumn. I've still to do the prompt for it and I will actually do it this month. No excuses this time. I quite like the sound of this months prompt so it will be a shame if I don't take part.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

London - Edward Rutherfurd

London is one of the biggest cities in the world which began as a small celtic village. After several invasions the village eventually became a city which was prosperous for some and not so much for others. The Duckets', Doggets', Bulls', Silversleeves and Barnikals' are just a few of the oldest family lines. They each have interacted with each other which has had consequences throughout their future descendants. They have interacted with famous historical figures, Kings and had a part to play in many historical landmarks. They have each shown that even the smallest decision can change the fortune of future generations.

Writing that wee blurb was actually quite hard. How do you write a blurb for a book that follows family lines from before the roman invasion right up until WWII? All his books follow this method but with different places. Sounds formulaic but it's one of the best ways of writing historical fiction. Or at least one of the most interesting that I have come across. The amount of research that has went into each of these books is astounding.

The book is split into chapters and each chapter interacts with an important era in history. For example the first chapter we the the Celtic family, later known as Ducket, as they prepare for the roman invasion. The families have interacted with famous figures such as Shakespeare and Dick Whittington. I especially enjoyed reading about figures that I have read up on myself such as Henry II and Henry VIII. Although I am not an expert there didn't seem to be any errors to me although the author would have taken liberties when these figures interacted with his characters.

The characters themselves are just as interesting. I liked the fact that the good fortune of a family didn't necassary continue through out the family line as misfortune or greed took over. In one era the main character from one of the families might be a nice guy that we hope will get everything he is looking for. One or two generations down we might hope the character with the same family name gets what is coming to them. It felt more realistic that way and as a result was far from dull.

It is a large book but if you wanted you could take each section and read other things in between. I did try that since it was too large to carry around. In the end though I found that the book I was reading alongside this got left behind as I wanted to keep going. A huge book and I couldn't put it down which is why I read it in two weeks. It would have been quicker had I been able to carry it around.

I've only read his New York one and whilst I like that one better I was more aware of the history behind this one. I think it was the simplicity of the writing which mirrored the simplicity of the era the author was writing about. It did seem to grow more complex as time went on. I can see why the author did that but it meant that it took me a little longer than normal to warm to it than I did to New York. That's the only downside to the book. For me anyway. I love the historical aspect though. Well worth the 1300 odd pages.

Monday 9 July 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a meme by Sheila of Book Journey. It's a fun way of sharing the books we have read each week.

It's been a while since I have taken part in this. Just because I have usually had a 12hr shift on a Monday or been too busy. There is no point in going over everything I have read since the last time I took part so just thought I would start fresh.

This week I read;

London by Edward Rutherfurd. I have still to review it but this was a fantastic book. I have been reading this the last few weeks as it's quite a chunky at over 1300 pages.

Just now I am reading;

The Leopard by Tomasi Di Lampedusa. I was originally reading this alongside London but London took over. I am enjoying it though. It's a very different pace. I am reading this for the classics challenge.

Next I plan to read;

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I will be reading this for the mixing it up challenge. It looks interesting so I am looking forward to it.

What have you been reading the weeks I have been AWOL?

Sunday 8 July 2012

The Sign of Four - Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is bored for lack of a case and poor Watson is worried about him and his drug use. However, just when Watson is confronting him about it a case worthy of his attention lands on his lap. A young lady has been receiving pearls annually since the death of her poor father. A note then arrives at her door to say that if she were to meet the stranger he would tell her of the injustice done by her. Sherlock and Watson volunteer to go with her. There they discover that the brother of the note writer has been murdered with a card left behind revealing the sign of the four. Believed to be the victim of a uncouth looking man from his days in India that somehow involves the girls father. Sherlock is on the case meanwhile poor Watson is smitten.

When I gave my month overview this book completely slipped my mind. This is what happens when I let myself get so far behind in my book reviews. How could I have forgotten this wonderful book? I was a little shocked by the start of it. Sherlock's drug habit out of boredom surprised me. I haven't seen any of the television series or films so you will have to forgive my ignorance. Supposedly it humanises him, gives him a flaw but it didn't do that for me.

Anyways, despite that it was another fantastic tale. By now Sherlock and Watson are now used to each others ways. Watson no longer has any doubt as to the brilliance of Sherlock and is entirely trusting of his ability to solve any case. There wasn't really much to solve in terms of who did it since that is revealed to us quite quickly. It's the why that is the real problem solver. Like the last book once Sherlock has his man it reflects to the time when the problems between murderer and victim first began. In this case during the days where the victim was am officer in India.

Very well done and the reflection in India kept it interesting. There was even a touch of romance in there (just to prove I am not a complete cynic). I have the third book sitting waiting on me which I will hopefully get to soon.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

Basil Hallward is famed for his portraits. His best yet is that of up and coming man, Dorian Gray. His portrait catches the eye of Lord Henry Wotton who insists that he is introduced to Gray. Basil reluctantly does so believing that Lord Henry will somehow corrupt Gray. Lord Henry likes the idea and so sets out convincing Gray that his beauty is the only important thing in life. It doesn't take much convincing and soon Gray is obsessed with his beauty. It takes a darker turn as he decides that he must do everything he can to keep his youth and beauty. He would do anything and as his soul is slowly destroyed his beauty remains the same if not amplified. Meanwhile Basil has somehow captured the essence of Gray's soul in his portrait and as it darkens this is reflected in his image.

This is my second time reviewing this book here (I think) but I am much too lazy to go hunting for it. It think it was near the start. Back then I said I disliked the book for too main reasons. First of all I found the language of the book too flowery. Secondly I disliked every single one of those characters and found it hard to enjoy the book as a result. Sadly, no matter how I tried, both are still true. I have come to some other realisations however.

Having thought about it I have read other books, particularly classics, where the language is similar. I am sure it's part of that era and yet I have liked other classics which have the same style. The same is true for the characters. No one is supposed to like Gray or even his friend Wotton. Plus I have read other books where I have disliked the characters and yet still enjoyed them (not many to be fair). So it must be a combination of these things.

It isn't just that though. I loved the idea behind this book. I really do and I am once again saddened by how much I couldn't take to it. I think the main overall problem is that there wasn't much to Gray's character to begin with which was why he was so easy to corrupt. He was already vain about his appearance and Wotton just gave him a little nudge. He did good but only so that others in his circle would look on him favourably. If maybe he had some personality to him or something that I could like then I think the contrast between what happens to his soul and the way he was before would have made me appreciate the book more. I am thinking of Jekyll and Hyde when I think of this.

In general I feel quite bad for giving it so few stars. When compared to Shades of Grey this is a master piece even to me but I couldn't give it any higher because I just didn't like it. I would hate to think that anyone is put off reading this book just because I didn't enjoy it. The truth is I am very much in the minority in my dislike.

I read this for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge hosted by Hanna of Booking Through Heels.  You can see what others have read here. Also Hanna did a six month overview here. This has actually bolstered me a little bit. I was dragging my feet but having seen this post I realise I have only three books left and only one of those is a re-read (mind you another one that I disliked). If I can get past the re-read I will be fine.

As I said this was for the challenge and it seems only fair to compare the character Gray in the book to that in the film. I think he was one of the few that was actually true to form. Completely vain and self obsessed. I didn't particularly like him much in the film either.

Monday 2 July 2012

Travels With Charley - John Steinbeck

Already one of Americas most celebrated authors Steinbeck decides to travel round America. Despite writing about America for years he believes he doesn't really know it. With a truck all set up better than a mobile home he heads out. Of course he takes trusted dog Charley with him for company. His goal is to not only see America but to get to know it and the people who make it.

Every time I pick up a book by Steinbeck I am reminded once again how much I love this author. I thought that this one would be different since it's not fiction (although I believe that some claim it is). I put off reading it because I didn't want to be disappointed. At the same time I was fascinated with the idea of this author traveling round the States with only his dog for company.

I needn't have worried as I was immediately lost in his words. This man can write. Fiction or non-fiction it doesn't matter. I bet he could make a computer program manual sound interesting. The book starts off with his reasons for taking this trip and his organising. Normally I would be frustrated at the point and just wanting him to get to the trip itself but with Steinbeck I was happy just to enjoy it. I loved the sound of the truck he had made specially for going and it sounds like others were fascinated too as it turned into a talking point wherever he went.

As he sets off I knew there was one part that I loved more than the others and that was his sidekick Charley.  I have never had a dog but I understand that owners see them as people sometimes. This is the same as Charley. I fell in love with Charley from the first page and Steinbeck was funny with his stories of him. Many a time he argued with Charley as though he were a real person and more often than not Charley got his own way just by giving him a look. If I was ever to have a dog I would want it to be like him.

The travel aspect was interesting and he did see a lot of country side and meet lots of people from all walks of life. Most people were happy to talk to him although everyone was reluctant to share their political views. Steinbeck clearly likes people and does his best to understand them. This shows when he is given a recently vacated room to clean up in in Chicago. Instead of getting washed he begins investigating who the person was that had the room before him.

As the book nears it's ending Steinbeck has clearly had enough of travel and just wants to be back in his own home with his family. He doesn't hold back on how he feels there and for that I admire him. My only criticism of the book is that I didn't come away with a better understanding of America. There wasn't enough interaction with others as it mostly contained Steinbeck's thoughts and feelings. Not that that wasn't interesting but I would have liked more about the areas he visited as well as the people he met.

A fabulous book all the same and I can see myself reading it again in the future. On that note I am now only one book review behind, woo hoo!

Sunday 1 July 2012

June Round Up/ Month Ahead

A very slow month for me reading wise although June itself seems to have passed far too quickly. Where did all those weeks go? Anyway, I didn't get much read so here is my list.

1. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John LeCarre
3. Flowers For Algernon - Daniel Keyes
4. Fifty Shades of Grey - E. L. James
5. Travels With Charlie - John Steinbeck
6. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

The easiest one to list is my least favourite. Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the worst books I have ever read. I don't understand why everyone loves it. It's just so badly written. I have reviewed it so I won't go on about it. It is hard to pick just one favourite though so I am not going to try. All I will say that it is between Steinbeck, Keyes and Spark. I still haven't caught up with my reviews but I am only two behind. Whilst I am still on placement I have finished essays and exams so I should have time to do that.

Challenge Overview

 Once again I loved the book I picked out for the classics challenge. I finally got round to reading Scottish classic, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. It was a wonderful read and I got a real sense of Edinburgh as well as the decade it was set in. Alas, I once again didn't take part in the prompt. I am allowed to miss three though and so far that's two. Fingers crossed I manage the next one. For July's choice I am now reading The Leopard by Guiseppe Di Lempedusa. Another recommendation from my classic loving friend. Enjoying it so far and it makes a nice change reading a translated classic.
 I am loosing will power on this challenge even though I don't have far to go. I have just read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and I'm sorry but I just don't like it. Will review it soon but I did try with it. I have the Phantom of the Opera coming up too and I have to confess it's another re-read and another I didn't enjoy the first time. If I leave it to last though I know I will definitely not finish the challenge.
 June's category was crime and for that I picked out a spy novel. I read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarre which I quite enjoyed. Was surprised by that although it did lose me a few times. Wouldn't say no to trying some more by LeCarre. Next category is horror and I am cheating with this one because my mind has drawn a blank for new authors. I have seen Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs as horror in only one place. It's a vague link but I am going to go with it.

I went with the group choice this time and read Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Glad I did because it was a fantastic read. I think even non sci fi fans would enjoy it. For July I am going to brush the dust off a book I've had sitting there a while. Going to read Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds. I do like him so I am looking forward to it.

I also have London by Edward Rutherford on the go. It's over 1300 pages so it's one I have been reading at home. I am loving it though. No other plans as to what I am going to read next. Has everyone else had a good reading month?