Monday 6 May 2013

The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton

In 1913 a young girl finds herself stranded in Australia with no idea who she is or where she came from. When Nell turns 21 her family tell her of how they found her and it changes her life. Finally in 1975 Nell decides to track down her real family and find out how she got from England to Australia on her own. However, things happen and Nell's determination to discover the truth is interrupted. Instead it's left to Nell's granddaughter after she has been left a cottage in Cornwall. It's 2005 now and Cassandra decides to find out the truth about her grandmother and her own family history.

I have to say that this didn't quite live up to my expectations. I think if I had read this before everyone told me how brilliant it was I might have enjoyed it for what it was that little bit more. Instead I found it to be a little bit too long and dragged a little in parts. Whilst I enjoyed the sections with Nell and Cassandra I found the sections with the authoress to be a little dull. Normally I would love that sort of thing but it just didn't feel right to me. As I got into the book though it did get better. I think the mystery unfolding helped there although I had guessed much of it before the end. I also quite liked the authoress herself. Much more than the rest of her family, including her cousin and best friend.

That family, ick. Typical, creepy, upper class family. The uptight mother who will do anything to protect her precious. The creepy father who hides away dreaming about his long lost sister (not in the good sense of dreaming - shudder). Then there is the equally uptight and spoiled daughter who takes delight in befriending the authoress in order to irritate her mother. I confess that by the end I had felt sorry for the daughter but I still didn't like her very much. Have to feel for the authoress being stuck with them.

What I really liked about the book was Nell and Cassandra trying to unlock the past. They really had very little to go on. Just a small suitcase containing a book of fairy tales which were illustrated by a famous artist. Yet somehow with little (and no internet back then) Nell managed to uncover most of it with Cassandra getting there in the end years later. I especially liked reluctant Cassandra forming unexpected attachments.

There is of course the garden element of the book. I'm not going to say much about that other than the fact that it did remind me quite a bit of The Secret Garden. Quite a lot of parallels in there such as the sick cousin being promised a trip to the garden. Anyway, I get the feeling that this author was a fan of the children's book.

It sounds like I didn't enjoy the book but actually I did. I gave it 4/5 stars on goodreads and wouldn't have done that had I not enjoyed it. I just don't think it was quite as brilliant as it's reputations suggested. As I said earlier it was a little long in parts and could have done with a little editing but that's just my humble opinion. Also don't let my review put you off. I bet most people prefer the flashbacks to the authoress than to the sections with Nell and Cassandra.

Sunday 5 May 2013

April Overview/ Month Ahead

I have been on a blogger lull of late. Mainly because I have been doing course work and exams. All of which are over now and I think I have passed. I've also been running about doing other things. I did manage a visit to the library though. Had to renew One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and my order of Lamb had just come in. Couldn't leave without checking out a few others.

So here is my reading month;

1. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (re-read)
2. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
3. John Dies @ The End - David Wong
4. Afterwards - Rosamun Lupton.

Yep, not a lot and I can't just blame the exams. I have been reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for about a month now and I just can't get into it. I thought I had lost my reading mojo again but since putting this aside for the moment I have read a book and a half. So it's not me it's my relationship with the book. I am going to get back to it though because I feel I should love it and so far nothing much has happened. I loved the film so I should love this.

My favourite of the bunch is Cold Comfort Farm without a doubt. I loved this book and I am thinking of picking up a copy of my own. John Dies @ The End was one of the oddest books I have ever read. The most disappointing was Afterwards. I loved Sister and this one just didn't live up to it. Having said that I still enjoyed it.

For this month I plan on working my way through this small pile of library books. I am back on placement as of next week but I am Monday-Friday short shifts so I should still get reading done. Even with course work. I picked up the Michael Connelly book because I had just read my first one. I quite liked it. It wasn't an exciting read but I felt that I wasn't done with these characters and so picked The Reversal up when I saw it on the shelf. I picked up the Jo Nesbo because so many people have raved about it but I'm not sure I am willing to splurge on the books just yet. The woes of being a student mean I have to be careful with book buying these days. Tend to feel a little guilty when it's not a nursing book. I've never read a Sebastian Faulks but I remember when I saw A Week In December on the shelves in the book shop. Someone put me off it at the time but seeing it in the library rekindled my interest.

So that's what my upcoming month looks like. Hope everyone else had a good month and got lots of good reading in. Going to leave you with a recent book purchase. I haven't completely stopped buying books and I saw this one in a sale. Haven't read On The Road by Jack Kerouac but I love this cover. All about the cover love.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Still Alive!

I was doing so well in updating my reviews and then it all went to pot. I am still alive though. Since I was here last I have had exams. I also had a large report that I decided to change two nights before it was due. There may have been a little stress. I also was in fear of developing pressure sores after spending hours in front of the computer in the library. Not to worry, I am pressure sore-less. I have also been organising events for my knitting group (how many of you knew I ran one?). We were celebrating five years running and I had lots of things planned. Which is also why I am sadly not joining in the readathon this weekend.

I have had a fun week though and a few ladies from the group made me this pretty bag to match some cushions I made a while ago. I just want to hug it! Tomorrow I get to see some friends I haven't seen in months and I might actually get back to my book after a 2 week hiatus.

Happy readathon everyone!

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Amsterdam - Ian McEwan

After a prolonged illness Molly Lane has passed away. Many of her friends have come along to the funeral to pay their respects much to the chagrin of her husband as a fair few were former lovers. Foreign secretary Julian Garmony, composer Clive Linley and editor Vernon Halliday are three such guests. Clive and Vernon had actually become friends due to their connection to Molly Lane and their mutual dislike of Garmony. After the funeral Vernon comes across the opportunity to bring down right winger Garmony and gets his friend involved. However, this hatred and plan for revenge comes crashing down around them.

I forgot this was a Man Booker winner. It wasn't why I picked it up although I have been curious about his winning book. It was more I was in the mood to read one of his books and this was the only one the library had. Having read it I do still think that Atonement is the superior even though that was only short listed.

The characters Clive and Vernon are unlikely friends. They really don't have all that much in common. Clive lives in a world of music and that's all he really cares about. His social circle in the past have always revolved around music and the arts. Molly was a big part of that too and it was really only through her that Vernon was brought into Clive's world. I don't really understand how the two connected considering they have no real respect for each other. Vernon on the other hand is a newspaper editor. Has worked for the papers for years and is well respected in his field.

At this point their hatred of Garmony seems to be their only connection. Especially since Molly is now dead. Garmony is a right winger. Not all right wingers are bad but this one seems to go to the extreme. Or at least he would if he could and it looks like he is heading to be in that position. This is why Vernon gets involved and it just so happens that Molly's husband is able to help. A lot of this hatred and vindictiveness though is petty rather than for political reasons and you do have to wonder what Molly seen in each of them (and this includes her husband). Was she just attracted to their talent? As much as each of the characters repulsed me in some way I had to read on and see what would happen. This seems to be typical of McEwan. The characters always have a darker side, usually a selfish and petty one. In this case all of them.

The book was very well written. Points of view from each of the two men which gave insight into each of their worlds and was important to the ending. As for Amsterdam. Well, it isn't too clear why the book was given that title until the end when all was revealed. A great book and a great ending.

Monday 15 April 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

I have been MIA the last few weeks as far as this meme has been concerned. I have still been reading and I am almost up to date with my reviews. So I haven't been slacking. Having said that I am just going to post last weeks reads.

Last week I read;

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Very much enjoyed it. I haven't read this in years so I had forgotten much of it.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. I picked this up on a whim at the library and now I am going to have to buy my own copy. Loved it!

Just now I am reading;

John Dies @ the End by David Wong. This is one of the strangest books I have read.

Next I plan to read;

Afterwards  by Rosamund Lupton. Another library whim but I have been wanting to read this since it first came out. I loved Sister so I am looking forward to it.

Not much else to say news wise. Been keeping my head down and studying for exams. This time next week it will all be over

Saturday 13 April 2013

The Sunset Limited - Cormac McCarthy

Mr White and Mr Black are in the home of Mr Black. MR Black has just saved Mr White from jumping in front of The Sunset Limited. He refuses to let him leave until he can gain some understanding as to why he might do that. He also wants to convince Mr White that there is more out there and more to life and that someone cares for him. Mr Black found God when he was in prison and about to die. He doesn't have much in life other than the four walls around him. Mr White on the other hand has done fairly well for himself. He is a professor but also an atheist.

When I picked this up in the library I was unaware that McCarthy had written any plays. In fact this is his second. It's also the second book I have read by him and I'm not exaggerating if I say that The Road and this is completely different. Night and day.

Anyway, I have to confess that had I known there was a religious theme to the book then I would have avoided it. Like Mr White I am a sceptic and I hate it when one character tries to convince another to believe. Mr Black isn't really preaching though. He is just trying to stop Mr White from carrying out his earlier intentions. He wants to save his life rather than his soul. So the religious content didn't so much bother me in the end.

The play was rather short and it took me no time at all to read. It was set in only the one room and I imagine it would have been quite interesting to go and see. As I have learnt from previous plays you can get as much out of them as novels. I just wish that maybe I had taken a little bit more time with it. Mr Black was the more interesting of the two characters. He has had a hard life and yet he goes out of his way to save someone completely different from himself. Mr White doesn't seem to appreciate and it's harder to gauge what Mr White is all about. Perhaps he himself doesn't know.

It was an interesting idea and I after weeks of mulling it over I have decided that I did like it. Glad I picked it up on a whim.

Friday 12 April 2013

The Hunger Games!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was one of those books I read before my blog existed. It was back when I still worked with books and one of the few times I wasn't involved in the children's or YA books. A friend of mine had taken over that position and she would push all her books on me. This is the friend I have told you about before. The one who pretty much reads YA exclusively. She does occasionally make a foray into the grown up world but it's rare and usually comes as a surprise to her when she does. Back then I still devoured YA so I was usually happy to read the books she recommended (apart from the times she managed to get zombie books past my radar but that's another story).

The Hunger Games was one of those books that I was actually reluctant to read. I was sure it had been done before and so I wasn't interested. I really wish I had kept a book journal back then so that I could look back at what I was thinking as I read but alas I didn't. When I finally agreed to give it a go it was with a determination that I wouldn't like it (which is unusual for me). My friend was right though and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It had it's faults but I could ignore that for the most part. That scene with Rue (you know the one) melted my heart and from then on in I was hooked. I loved the next two books too. I think I probably enjoyed the third book more than most of the fans did. I think most people were expecting more of the same thing and were disappointed when it took a different turn. I would have been disappointed had it not taken a new direction.

So when the film came out I didn't want to see it. Now this is not unusual. I hate films that destroy my favourite books and it has happened so many times in the past that I now have trust issues. So I didn't go and see it and I have managed to avoid most advertising for it when the DVD came out. I then made the mistake of joining netflix and last week I gave in and watched it.

It has to be one of the few films that I have loved as much as the book (that's two in a row with Perks being the last one). One minute I was thinking I'm not going to enjoy this the next I was holding my breath because I knew what happened next. It was very well done and Jennifer Lawrence was a perfect choice for Katniss (something else I very rarely agree on). There were certainly things missing but I had read the book so long ago that I probably didn't notice half of them. Then the moment I was not looking forward to came. Yep, that scene with Rue and I sobbed my heart out. I mean proper sobbing. It would have been mortifying had I not been on my own.

So now I am eagerly anticipating Catching Fire. Of course I won't be going to see it in the cinema as I remember crying reading that book too.

Thursday 11 April 2013

The Wind Through The Keyhole - Stephen King

Roland, Susannah, Eddie, Jake and Oy are making their way towards the Dark Tower. Oy has been behaving strangely and Roland has an idea why. A sudden storm is about to descend on them. The kind that kills instantly and the only way to stay alive is to take shelter in a stone building. Thankfully one is close by and once they are settled the convince Roland to tell them a story. He tells them of the time he is sent by his father to investigate reports of a shape shifter killing some villagers. The reports turn out to be true and Roland must hunt the shape shifter down and kill him as his hunts are getting larger. One survivor is a young boy and to distract him Roland tells him the story of The Wind Through The Keyhole. A story his mum used to tell him when he was little.

That's right this is a story within a story within a story. To be honest it was disappointing. I was so excited to read this book. I have very fond memories of reading The Dark Tower books. There were so many things I loved about them such as links to this world, links to other King novels and all the other little surprises in there. Of course there was the characters themselves too which I loved. Some of that magic though seemed to be missing. There wasn't much in the way of Roland and his current ka. It was really just a way for Roland to tell a story. Really what is there is just to remind you of these characters and how they interact with each other.  Nothing more.

As for Roland's two stories. I actually found them to be a little dull. Roland's task wasn't particularly exciting or new. I suppose you learn a little more about his relationship with his mother and you learn a little about one of his friends who has been sent with him but not much else. The excitement of the tale doesn't really begin until the second half, after Roland has told his story to the little boy. Even then it's over fairly quickly.

The story Roland tells the little boy is much better. It's a little slow in starting and I do think some of it could have been edited out but it was still interesting. The story of a little boy who shows bravery in order to save his mother. Parts of it was a little obvious such as how his father died and the evil step father. Other than that I was intrigued by the forest and the evil magician.

Each of the three stories are linked together in some way. The obvious link is Roland but there are others in there if you look hard enough. The storm is one of those links although I couldn't help but picture The Day After Tomorrow.

In case  you are wondering the book is placed just after the fourth book in the Dark Tower series although King does say it can be read on it's own. Not the King's best work but still glad I read it.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Capital - John Lanchester

Pepys Road in London started out as a street for the middle class. A group of people not especially well off but able to hold their own. Over the decades this has changed along with the houses themselves and before the market crash they could be sold for a couple of million. Just before the market does crash the street is filled with an interesting group of people. A powerful bank manager, an old lady who was born in her house, a young footballer just discovered and a family who own the corner shop. The only thing each of them have in common is that they live on the same street. One day though they start to receive strange postcards. The postcards state "We Want What You Have" but there is no clue as to where they came from or why. As the months pass the cards keep coming and eventually they change to become a little bit sinister.

I didn't feel this book really went anywhere in terms of a story but I enjoyed it. It kind of just followed the path of all these people without really doing much other than living normal lives. I quite liked that though and each of the characters were interesting. The only character I didn't particularly like was the arrogant banker and his selfish wife. It was hard to like them since all they wanted to do was get filthy rich and cause each other pain. However, they did  pave the way of us seeing into the life of their builder, Zbigniew. He wasn't particularly nice at first either. Also quite selfish at times and to busy working on his plan to make money to enjoy life. He was an interesting character though and I liked how he developed. I liked the old lady, the family who owned the corner shop and even the young footballer. I enjoyed each of their sections and looked forward to them coming round again.

As for the main plot line. At first those cards were really only a way of seeing into the lives of these people. They connected them as each of them would have very little to do with each other. Only the family who owned the corner shop would have any real reason to interact with others in the street. Each of these groups of families react to the cards in a different way. The old lady ignores them but her artist grandson takes an avid interest. The father of the young footballer finds the cards sinister from day one. When the cards do take on a slightly darker tone this brings in the police and it's then that the book truly focuses on them.

I have to admit that at first I didn't think I was going to enjoy the book. However, it quickly grew on me and in the end I was sorry that it was over. I also had an invested interest in each of the characters and I found the outcome of some to be quite sad. As to it being outrageously funny, I wouldn't go that far although it did have it's moments.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

The Perks of Being A Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

It's Charlie's first day at high school and he's a little bit apprehensive about it. Hi older brother is off to college and his sister would like the world to be unaware of the fact that they are related. Unlike his successful siblings he isn't popular. His best friend killed himself the year before and their other friend has a whole new set of friends and would like to forget the years before. Charlie is too shy to make new friends and feels awkward doing it but has promised his favourite teacher to join in. This is where he meets Patrick and Sam. Although they are seniors they accept Charlie and he becomes a part of their group. Through them he experiences acceptance for the first time. It gives him a way of forgetting his past and putting those demons away. Problem is when things don't go well for Charlie they want to come out and haunt him.

This is one of those books I wish I had read as a teenager but still enjoyed now. I think I would have loved it back then. I was awkwardly shy at times and could in some way relate to Charlie. Charlie is a great character. You read some of these recent YA books and the teenagers don't sound like teenagers. Not so with Charlie. Although he is bright it wasn't hard to believe that he was 15. His language and emotional maturity seemed about right for his age. He didn't have the Dawson Creek factor. The book is written in the form of letters to a stranger. We never do find out who that stranger is but that's kind of the point. Charlie needs to talk to someone who isn't in his life and this way we see his first year at high school unfold.

As for the other characters I loved them too. Patrick and Sam were outsiders in their own right too but had their own group of fellow outsiders. People who didn't care if their intelligence showed and knew their own mind in terms of music, films, books and of course a shared love of The Rocky Horror. To be honest they sound like a fun bunch and I loved each of them. The kind of group I would have loved to have been a part of myself.

The book was written and is set in the 90's. It's easy to tell with the obsession of the mixed tape. I went through that obsession too and have many memories of friends and I sharing mixed tapes (although our music taste was nowhere near as cool as these guys). I loved the soundtrack to this book and I don't mind admitting to looking some of them up. As well as the music there is a list of books that Charlie is given to read by his English teacher. Quite a few I have read and quite a few I haven't but I am thinking of picking up. Unlike The Silver Lining Playbook though there is no real spoilers here. So it doesn't matter if you haven't read the books mentioned.

As for Charlie's demons/ghosts I can't say that I was expecting them to turn out to be quite what they were. You already know that Charlie has a sad story in his past and you think you know what it is until you reach the end (or near the end). It gives that book that hint of sadness. Well more than a hint but not the crying your eyes out kind.

For a small YA book I got quite a lot out of it and I might have to go out and buy a copy for my own collection. It's a book that I would pass on to my kids when they are young teens (if I had any). The week I finished reading this I watched the film too and I was pleasantly surprised by it. It didn't deviate much at all from the books. The small changes I could live with. It's understandable that films based on books can't put everything in it but this one retained all the important scenes. It also had the songs I had hoped it would, mainly The Smiths which the book talks about regularly. I don't normally bother with soundtracks in films but I would have been annoyed had the film ignored it. Oh, and Charlies books were there too.

So if you haven't read the book or seen the film I recommend that you do.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

March Overview/ Month Ahead

This photo has no relevance to this post other than the fact that I found it highly amusing and it (sort of) links into my previous post about Stephen King. I should really read that book again at some point.

Well, January and February may have been slow for me book wise but March certainly wasn't. I read more than both months put together. A good month even compared to last year. I managed a total of 10 books. Most of them were good ones too. Here's my list;

Did You Miss Me - Karen Rose
The Woman Who Died A Lot - Jasper Fforde
The Beginner's Goodbye - Anne Tyler
Ready Player One - Ernest Kline
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Capital - John Lanchester
The Wind Through The Keyhole - Stephen King
Sunset Limited - Cormac McCarthy
Amsterdam - Ian McEwan
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton.

My favourite of the bunch is Ready Player One. I didn't have to even think about that. It was a geekfest from cover to cover and a good story to boot. There was nothing in there that I didn't like. Plus to get a dystopian that's actually a little fun is unusual.The Woman Who Died A lot, The perks of Being a Wallflower and Amsterdam were close in the running. As I said most of them were good. Sunset Limited though. I am still mulling it over. I don't think that will ever really leave. Did You Miss Me was the only one I didn't enjoy at all.  As I said in my review I think I am over this series.

Last month I finally paid a visit to the library (first of the year I'm ashamed to say) and bought some lovely books. I also managed a fair number of reviews although I am still behind. I am also still behind on my good reads goal but I am catching up and I should catch up in the next week or so.

For this month I have no real plans. Got another visit to the library this week. Have to return some books and it would be rude not to get a few more. I plan on finally catching up on all those reviews and my good reads goal. On the cards I have John Connolly, Janet Evanovich, Thomas Hardy and possibly Charles Dickens.

It's the Dewey's Readathon this month too. I didn't expect to be able to take part because of exams but I will have finished them by then (27th April). Sadly I still can't as I have other plans already. It will be a long day so don't think I will be able to join in even for 12 hours. I will be looking forward to seeing how everyone else gets along.

Anyone else got any plans this month?

Thursday 28 March 2013

I heart Stephen King!

So it's near the end of the trimester and I should be doing some work for exams which are next. The plan was to stay away from the computer (other than for research purposes) and concentrate. However, I of course had to check out facebook first (lots of rants going on my year groups nursy page thanks to recent events). Anyways, I came across this. I am posting it here because I would have loved this as a poster back in my teenage years and sort of would like one now. Was created by someone called Tessie who loves to create flow charts. Her blog is Tessie Girl and is worth checking out.

Monday 25 March 2013

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

The Earth is one big disaster zone. For years we had been warned that we were destroying the planet and by 2044 we have finally gone and done it. Travel is now only for the rich with the majority of the population living off food stamps and in poverty. OASIS is the only refuge for most people. A virtual reality where you can make the world what you want it. Think of SecondLife or the Sims but you are in there seeing that world around you. For Wade Watts that's his escape and his only means of an education. He's also a gunter. The inventor of OASIS died five years before and left easter egg clues around his creation. Whoever finds them all gains ownership of his estate which includes this virtual world. For Wade it seems the only way he will escape his world but his resources are limited. So it's a surprise that he is the first to find the first egg. There is a friendly rivalry between himself and some fellow gunters but it gets series when a corporation intent on making OASIS theirs steps in.

I am actually a little sad to be reviewing this book. It's good to share but at the same time it also means that I have well and truly finished this book. Yes, I can go back and read it again but the second time isn't always the same as the first. The first is special even if you do discover more the second time. Anyways I am biting the bullet because if I don't you will have another two weeks of nothing but It's Monday.

So what you may not know about me (although I haven't hidden it very well) is that I am a big geek. I love my sci fi and there are some things that take me to my geeky happy place where I geek out. This was one of them. I was geeking out from page to page. For the owner of OASIS, the guy who died, was a bigger geek than I am. He was also a genius (which I am not, I am sure I haven't hidden that very well either). In order for these people to uncover the easter eggs they had to reveal some clues. Each of them are linked into things the owner loves which is quite a large number of things in the geek universe. There seems to be very little he didn't like sci fi shows, games, rpg games, games and anything from the 80's. As you can imagine these constant references were the reason I was in geek nirvana. I even discovered, to my horror, that my disdain for all things 80's was actually a cover for a love of most things 80's. I liked almost all of the references which just added to the geek out.

Enough about me and back to Wade. I liked Wade, he's the unlikely hero. The boy who has nothing but somehow ends up being known round the world as he and his friends compete to find the eggs. You want him to win even when he is at his lowest because he needs a break. He deserves it and he deserves to get the girl too. He's the good guy. The small lone wolf against the big, ruthless corporate body with the evil leader whom we definitely don't want to win. Plus the girl he is in love with is a fellow gunter and she kicks ass. She is just as intelligent, just as determined and is funny to boot. We like his best friend too so it seems a shame that only one can win.

Wade and his friends not only have to find these eggs first but they also have to avoid virtual death. Much like video games if they die on line they reset back to the beginning. They lose any magic swords or weapons or boosts that they have picked up along the way. So this they want to avoid at all costs. It gets trickier as the rules change depending on which world they are on. If they are in the Star Trek universe say (and there is a Star Trek universe which means to me there must also be a Doctor Who universe which equals DAVID TENNANT) then technology rules apply. On Middle Earth it's magic, swords and arrows. On Star Wars it's both.

Don't worry though. It's not all online adventure. There is quite a bit in the real world too as the evil corporation exist in this real world and would love nothing better than to track down these kids trying to take that big money pot away from them.

Sunday 24 March 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

This month has turned out to be a great month reading wise. Even if I finish no books this week I have read the same as January and February combined. This means that I am catching up in my good reads target. Fingers crossed that after this week I will no longer be behind. I got some pretty new books which I can't wait to get to. I have managed to do a fair few reviews and I'm slowly catching up on those too. I was saddened to hear about the death of James Herbert. I used to devour his books in my teen years.

Last week I read;

The Wind Through The Keyhole - Stephen King. I was disappointed with this book. Not up to the Dark Tower standard although it gave me a taste of how much I loved that series.

The Sunset Limited - Cormac McCarthy. One of the library books I picked up on a whim. I read it in a day but I am still thinking about it. Not sure what I make of it yet.

Just now I am reading;

Amsterdam - Ian McEwan. Proving to read this quickly too. Enjoying it so far.

Next I plan to read;

The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton. The last of my library book pile. I am looking forward to this as I haven't seen a bad review for Morton. Everyone seems to love her books.

Chinua Achebe also passed away. I didn't do a post on him as I haven't gotten round to reading any of his books although I have almost bought one a few times. I did consider reading him for last years Classics challenge. He was a famous African author who was prominent in politics and was notable for criticising Joseph Conrad. His most famous book is probably his first called Things Fall Apart. Have any of you read him? Would be interested to hear your thoughts?

How has your week been?

Friday 22 March 2013

The Beginner's Goodbye - Anne Tyler

Aaron Woolcroft has always had people in his life wanting to look after him. When he met his wife Dorothy she was a breath of fresh air. She gave him the Independence he craved. When she died he became lost but still didn't want the help of others. All he wanted was his wife back. An editor in a firm famous for it's beginner book series Aaron believes that he could benefit from a beginner's guide to get over the death of a loved one. As his wife returns to him in unexpected moments it lets him see that his life with her was maybe not as perfect as he had thought and that maybe it's time to let her go.

I quite liked Aaron. I usually do like Tyler's main characters even with their flaws. Then flaws are what make characters and separate them from the Mary-Sues of fiction. With Aaron his disabilities are not his flaws. That's just a part of him. The fact that he believes that the people who love him can't see beyond his disability and want to smother him is his flaw. With this belief he is pushing everyone away from him.

Again, like most of Tyler's books all the characters had their own flaws too and I like each of them for it. Even Dorothy who seemed to have been a woman who had been difficult to like. Having said that it wasn't enough. There was something missing from this book that the other Tyler books that I have read have. I don't know what that something is but this book just didn't do it for me.

I liked the characters, I liked the story but I don't think enough went into it. It was a very short easy read. I usually do find her books easy to read but this was almost too easy. Not in terms of language, the language was fine. It's one of those stories in a few months I will vaguely remember reading but won't remember much about the story. As sad as the story was it's not going to stay with me.

That's not to say it's the worst book I have ever read. Far from it. I still enjoyed it. I just think this one has nothing on Tyler's other books.

Thursday 21 March 2013

RIP James Herbert

James Herbert passed away at only 69 yesterday. 69 just seems like such a young age these days. Of course Herbert was famous for his horror books. Probably his most famous are The Rats and the two sequels. I was introduced to Herbert through these books not long after I started reading Stephen King. That was in my very early teens. Although I read a fair number of his books it's those ones that I remember most. Probably because they showed me that rats can scare the crap out of you. Particularly big killer rats. They hadn't bothered me before but since then I have eyed them with suspicion.

It's been a long time since I have read one of his books but I still remember going to the library and going straight to the horror section to see if they had any that I had yet to read. I usually always managed to go away with one in my pile. Although I'm not sure I would go back to reading his books I still remember them with great fondness. Anyone have a favourite book by Herbert?

The BBC have done a small piece on the author should you wish to know more about him.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

The Woman Who Died A Lot - Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next is still recovering from her assassination attempt. She's getting on in years, has a dodgy hip and is still trying to remember that she doesn't have a daughter called Jenny. Despite all her problems Thursday is still hoping to keep in the thick of it but is instead relegated to be the head of all libraries. You would think that would mean a quite life but Goliath are still out to get her, her son might or might not murder someone on Friday and someone keeps replacing her with fake Thursdays. Oh, and lets not forget that Swindon might face all destruction on Friday as God has decided that it's next on his smiting list. He's a tad angry that Thursdays brother proved his existence.

I am going to admit that when I started this and realised that no part of this book was going to be in the book world I was more than a little disappointed. Especially when you discover that Thursdays injuries from her last exploits prevent her from going there. How could this book possibly hold any interest for me now? I needn't have worried as it still had plenty of laughs and book related humour.

In any other book series a fraction of this plot would have seemed ridiculous. Lets face it. How many of you would shake your head at God's existence being proved and so he starts smiting parts of the world in a timely manner. Never mind the fact that Thursday's brother is the reason behind it and the fact that he has proved it sort of brought God into existence in the first place. Something like there being lots of believers and so he exists. My mind is going cross eyed thinking about it. It works though and the whole smiting thing does have something to do with Thursday herself. Plus whilst it's essential to the plot it's only one part of it.

We then have another mind-twisty moment where Friday is no longer going to save the world a million times over as he becomes the leader of the chronoguard (people in charge of time travel). When they could no longer prove that time travel was ever invented time travel stopped and all the people who worked for and will work for chronoguard are give alternate life stories. Again this is central to the plot but only a small part of it.

There is also a teenage love affair, evidence of where lost stories go, replacement Thursdays all over the place and dodo experiments. Two of my favourites though have very little to do with the central story but they amused me no end. The first is a nutty Enid Blytonist who wants Blyton's stories protected to the point of being a little fascist about it. The second was the mention of Daleks. Sorry, anything that mentions Daleks has my vote.

I loved every page of this book and once again I can't wait until the next one. On that note I am going to leave you with a picture of Daleks. Just because.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Did You Miss Me? - Karen Rose

Daphne Montgomery in her new position is just finishing up her first big case. Convicting a man for murdering two people in their car. Since this is a race hate crime there is a lot of focus on it. The family have a lot of backing and Daphne has every right to fear for the safety of herself and her loved ones. Whilst in court Daphne's 20 year old son has been discovered to be missing along with his girlfriend. His bodyguard is found dead in an ally. It would be only natural to believe that the current case has something to do with it. But does it or is it because of something that happened to Daphne long ago? FBI agent, Joseph Carter believes there is more to it and is determined to protect Daphne and get her son back.

I said in my review of the book previous to this that I knew who the next couple were going to be. I was wrong but I still see a story for them coming up. This book has me more convinced than ever.The couple that it did focus on just didn't do anything for me. Both seemed completely different from their first appearance. I maybe would have liked them better if they had continued as they were. Instead I found it difficult to like them. Not that they were horrible people but just that they seemed more than a little two dimensional. I found it hard to engage with them and to feel for them or even root for them. In fact I didn't feel anything for them. I nothing them (if that makes sense).

Perhaps I am just bored with the formula of these books. They are all the same it's just the plot that differs each time. Woman is in danger. Man helps save woman. Both have dark secrets which make them two scared to act on the fact that they fancy the pants off each other. They get over it. Solve the case. Live happily ever after. I didn't mind the formula before now. It was after all the only romance I would really go near (classics don't count). Plus the murdery bit was usually enough to keep me going (I am Scottish after all and we do love our murder books). Not this time. This time it was more than a little far fetched or rather tenuous. Sadly I can't really explain that link without spoiling it.

I thought it was just me but the friend who got me reading Karen Rose in the first place didn't like this book either. This is her 14th book so maybe she is bored with he formula too. I haven't had a chance to talk to her about it. For me anyway this is the last one. I don't even want to go back to read the others that I have missed in the middle. I will just have to find another light murdery read for when I am stressed or busy.

Monday 18 March 2013


I promise to look through posts for It's Monday later. I would much rather be doing that but I can't put off studying statistics and putting pen to paper any longer (sadly). For now though I thought I would quickly show off some new books I ordered from Waterstones. I really only went online to order John Connolly's The Unquiet. I have been waiting for bookshops to have this in but I can't be bothered waiting anymore. I want to get on with this series. However, it would be rude to order just one book so I ordered a couple of classics too.

I picked up Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy in the new penguin classic paperback. I get the impression that this is one of those books you either love or hate. A little like marmite. I hate marmite so I am hoping I will love this. I should probably have just got it out the library but with classics I feel I should get my own copy instead.

Lastly I picked up a Penguin Clothbound. I have been wanting to re-read Sense and Sensibility for a while now. I had planned to do it last year but didn't. So this is the year. I was determined if I was going to get my own copy of this book it had to be this edition. It's the magpie in me. I have read all of Jane Austen's books but I don't actually have my own copies (apart from P&P which you saw a few weeks ago) as I borrowed my mum's. I'm not sure she even has them any more. My mum is one of those people who passes on books as soon as she reads them. My dad is the same. My sister and I make up for it for the both of them.

Sunday 17 March 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Another good week books wise. I managed another two whole books which puts me two books ahead of this years monthly best (so far). Not only that I managed actual reviews this week. Not just one but three of them. I am still behind but I promise more for this week. I also paid a happy visit to the library. At the end of the week I picked up some books which I have still to share with you.

This week I read;

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky. I read this as quick as I could because I had skipped the rather large queue at the library (all explained in my library post - I'm not a bad person, honest!). I would probably have read that quick anyway. I have since watched the film AND picked up the soundtrack. A first for me I think and I loved all three.

Capital - John Lanchester. I still don't know what to make of this book but I did enjoy it. I am just not sure why because there were so many things about it which should have annoyed me.

Just now I am reading;

The Wind Through The Keyhole - Stephen King. Far too early to tell. To be honest I have read two pages of this. I stayed up later than I should have to finish Capital and have read two pages of this one. Enough to know I don't remember the references King gave for placing this book in the timeline. Not going to worry about it as he does say you don't need to have read the Dark Tower to enjoy this.

Next I plan to read;

The Sunset Limited - Cormac McCarthy. Picked this up on a whim at the library. Looks like it's going to be a little bit different so I'm looking forward to it.

In the past I have given shout outs to various blogs that I like. Usually in the context of a review or something related to what I am posting about. This time I am just going to say go along to Alex In Leeds. You won't be sorry.

Saturday 16 March 2013

The Collected Stories - Lorrie Moore

This is actually a combination of four short story collections by the author; Birds of America, Like Life, Anagrams, Self Help. All American based and covering all walks of life. In every single story there is one theme. Someone is lost in some way.

I really find it hard to write a blurb for collections of short stories. Particularly when there is no one character running through them. I feel as if I am doing Moore an injustice by not coming up with one. However, I shall just have to do my best to make up for it with my review.

I was accurate in saying that each of the characters were lost in some way. Some of them are happy with that state and some of them are just unable to find a notch for themselves. Each of them are unique. That's what makes this collection of collections so good. No two characters are the same. Some have similarities same as any collection of people might but they all have their own voice. Granted these stories were written over different periods of time but still. To come up with so many different voices takes a talent I find admirable. I don't care if that makes me easily impressed.

You would think with a running theme of being lost or not fitting in that you would find yourself depressed reading these stories but that's not the case. Moore was able to put a lot of humour into them and not all the scenarios were sad ones. As I mentioned some of the characters were accepting of who they were. The first story is probably the one that I keep thinking back to because it has one of the funnier moments (funny to me). It probably says a lot about my humour but I'm going to share it anyway. This story is about a writer who has been invited to some bigwig event. He's been invited as a token writer rather than because he is of importance and he knows it. Once there, feeling a little nervous and awkward, he strikes up a conversation with his neighbour and unwittingly manages to offend her by talking about politics. One of the topics his wife had warned him to avoid. One of her other warnings was;

"And unless you see the head crowning, never look at a woman's stomach and ask if she's pregnant"

Funny because my dad has actually made that little social error much to my mother's mortification. Obviously this guy has too. There are lots of little gems of humour through out but this is the one that stood out for me.

The only stories which seemed a little different from the rest was from her collection Anagrams. In fact Wikipedia lists it as a novel (I was too lazy to find the book in order to see the titles of the collections within). I think it's maybe listed as a novel because each of the stories (of which there are only a few) contain the same characters. However, in each story the characters are very different. They have the same names and they are all connected to each other in some way but play a different role in each and the importance of each character changes. I actually quite liked that. Thought it was a little different.

I could go on here and rave about more of the stories but I think everyone should get to read them for themselves. I can see it being a collection that people might want to dip in and out of. For me though I had to keep going. They were to good to set down and possibly forget about.

Friday 15 March 2013

The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick

Pat has just gotten out of hospital and is now living with his parents. He doesn't know why he was in hospital. He just knows that he has done something to upset his wife. In order to be reunited with her he believes he has to prove himself to her. The only way he can do that is to keep a diary that details his life since he left hospital and until he reunites with her. Meanwhile he tries his best to get his life in order. He spends the bulk of his time exercising or trying to connect with his father through football. Instead he builds connections with a lot of unexpected people. Including Tiffany, his friends sister in law, who is trying to recover from the death of her husband.

I picked this book up after reading FBT's review over at Kill Me If I Stop. I have to admit I had wanted to see the film but I am glad I didn't as, going by that review, it would have irritated me. As FBT says the book gives nothing away until the end. The film gives everything away at the start. An example of why some people should just leave books alone.

Anyway, back to the book. The language of the book was fairly simple and Pat was an engaging character. You knew there was a reason why he wasn't going to see his wife (and probably wouldn't) but like I said you didn't find that out until the end. That doesn't stop you for routing for him. You want him to have his happy ending so badly. He did everything he could to prove himself. I particularly enjoyed his views on some of the books his wife had tried to get him to read in the past. By the way if you haven't read any of these classics they will be spoiled for you (I'll list them at the end). Luckily I had read most of them and knew the story lines to the ones I hadn't read. What was interesting was that his take on them were skewed by his own belief that life should have a happy ending (or a silver lining).

I should warn you that there is also quite a lot of American football talk in the book. Pat's family are huge football fans and it's the only way Pat can seem to find any connection to his father who otherwise refuses to acknowledge his existence. It's quite heartbreaking to read Pat's attempts being brushed off again and again and yet he doesn't give up. I am far from being a sport fan but I actually enjoyed most of it. I liked the feeling of connection it gave Pat to his brother, old friends and even new friends.

Then there is Tiffany. She's quite a strange character but there is a reason behind her strangeness. It's all linked to her trying to overcome the death of her husband (and failing). She unexpectedly finds herself drawn to Pat to the extent she begins to stalk him whilst he takes his runs.

I loved this book. It was funny and sad and moving and just a good read. I understand that Pat was supposed to be bipolar but it didn't come across as that to me. Instead I have my own theories but alas I can't share without spoiling. I definitely recommend the book and I also recommending reading FBT's review. Oh, and I hate film tie-in covers but it was either that or wait to get the book. Being impatient I chose  to go with this cover.

Book list as promised;
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemmingway
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

Thursday 14 March 2013

Visit to the Library!

After doing the rounds on the It's Monday meme I decided to take a visit to the library. I had in my head that I wanted to get a copy of one of Kate Morton's books. I have seen over the last few weeks a large number reading her books and I thought it was about time I gave her a go. I see that The Forgotten Garden isn't her first book so I have a question for any Morton fans out there. Do I need to read The House at Riverton first? The library did recommend I read Forgotten Garden before Distant Hours but didn't mention anything about Riverton.

The second book I picked out was Ian McEwan's Amsterdam. Again I went in with the intention of picking out a McEwan. Someone on the meme was reading one of his books and it reminded me that I hadn't read one in a while even though I enjoy his writing. I just picked out the only one that was available which just happened to be Amsterdam. The Cormac McCarthy was a total whim. Looking forward to that. The Road is the only other book I have read by him.

The last book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is one that I had reserved. I reserved a couple of books over a month ago and my place in the queue didn't seem to be changing. I then spotted one of the books that I was waiting for on the shelf. Although I was still far behind in the queue I was able to get it out because I happened to find it (they were clearly unaware that it was sitting there). I feel a little guilty for skipping ahead but I did read it in a day and have since returned it. So that's someone getting their copy sooner than they would have since it would probably still be sitting there. I'm afraid it will be a while before I review it as I am about five reviews behind.

I may even watch the film so that I can do a comparison.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

It's Nick and Amy's fifth wedding anniversary. Although things haven't been good of late Amy still goes ahead and creates one of her elaborate treasure hunts to celebrate. Nick, however, has still to think of something as he heads out to work at the bar he owns with his sister. In that morning Amy disappears leaving an upturned house and the door wide open. It doesn't look like she left voluntarily and fingers start to point straight at Nick. As the cracks in his marriage begin to show the more everyone thinks Nick murdered Amy. Nick is determined to prove his innocence and decides to finally solve one of Amy's treasure hunts to prove it.

As I was starting to get my reading mojo back a friend recommended this book. Glad she did as it was one that I read in two days which made me feel like I was back to my old reading self.

Nick seemed quite likable at first. Just a lovable rogue who doesn't quite live up to his wife's perfect expectations. As we hear from Amy's point of view though you begin to doubt him. I didn't want to at first. I was determined that because I liked him for the most part that I was going to believe him and wanted to believe him. It was hard to relate Amy's version of Nick to actual Nick. In the end what I realised about this book that it is actually about a pair of psychopaths. They are both nuts. Amy isn't quite what she seems either and I believe they were both welcome to each other. I really can't say any more about the characters without revealing it too much. Suffice it to say that the only one I actually liked in the end was Nick's twin sister.

I thought this book was going to be another one of those usual mysteries. It was similar to another book that I had read by Flynn where it alternates between chapters of Nick proving his innocence and chapters from Amy from the start of their marriage/relationship. The big twist happens somewhere near the middle which I wasn't expecting at all and the book continues to build from there. Don't worry, I'm not spoiling it as there is another one at the end.

If you like a mystery and you don't mind that the characters aren't quite what you expected then you should give this a try. It's a little bit different and whilst the characters may be crazy it just makes the book all the harder to put down.

Monday 11 March 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Another week gone by and I still haven't posted any reviews. I will this week, I promise. I don't want to get too far behind and for the only thing on my blog to be this meme (as fun as it is). Otherwise I had a good week. I did lots of crafting, some baking, lots of reading and of course some study and course work were thrown in there. Oh, and I am now sitting at four books read for this month. I just need to finish one more book and I will have beaten January and February!

Last week I read;

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler. Not my favourite by Tyler but I still enjoyed it.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I was having a geek out at almost every page of this book. Another book on my favourites of 2013 list.

Just now I am reading;

Capital by John Lanchester. Not sure about it but as I am only 20 pages in I am trying not to make any judgements.

Next I plan to read;

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King. This seems to be my year to catch up with the few King books I have missed. Looking forward to this one as I loved the Dark Tower series. Problem is that my memory may not be up to it. I read the Dark Tower when they were first released in hardback so it's been a while.

Has everyone else had a good week?

Sunday 3 March 2013

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.

A good week for me book wise. Although the end of the month caught me unawares.

Last week I read;

Did You Miss Me by Karen Rose. Wasn't that great to be honest. Think this will be my last Karen Rose book.

The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde. I was a little disappointed when I realised that this one wasn't set in Book World. That disappointment soon fled though as I got lost in the story. If you follow me on instagram I apologise now for all the photo's I posted.

Just now I am reading;

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler. Only just started this one so it's too soon to tell.

Next I plan to read;

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I have seen this reviewed so many times and it's always been positive. Can't wait to get started on it. First sci fi of the year.

Last week I bought;

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Okay, I have read this before and I have already shared this book here. However, this cover is too good not to show off more than once.

Like I said a good week. Plus I am only at the start of the month and have read two books. Hopefully that means I will beat the last two months of 4 books each.

How did everyone else get on?