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Showing posts from 2008

Busy Reading Weekend!

We had a really busy day on Saturday and I was so tired on Sunday so I curled up on the sofa with a couple of books. I finished Jane Eyre which I absolutely loved and I cannot believe that I had not read it already. It just has everything and obviously the writing is excellent, I really did not want it to end and will definitely be reading it again in the future. I decided to read something a little lighter after Jane Eyre and so started 31 Dream Street by Lisa Jewell; I have read all of her other books and this one is just as good. I have only got a few more chapters left so I shall write more about it later.

Booking Through Thursday

I liked this Booking Through Thursday!
Following up last week’s question about reading writing/grammar guides, this week, we’re expanding the question….
Scenario: You’ve just bought some complicated gadget home . . . do you read the accompanying documentation? Or not?
Do you ever read manuals?
How-to books?
Self-help guides?
Anything at all?

Definitely!! It really annoys me when people discard the manual and then complain that they do not know how something works! My future husband is a prime example of this; whenever he has a new mobile phone he discards the manual and then gets frustrated that his phone does not do what it says on the box. I'm not sure if maybe I am just a bit of a control freak but I just think that reading the instructions nearly always ends up saving yourself time. I don't mean to be sexist but I do think it is mainly men who have a problem with manuals and instructions as they do not like to admit that they do not know the answer; this is evident in the way tha…

Affinity by Sarah Waters

Affinity is based around the mysterious world of Victorian spiritualism. It is much darker than Waters' other books; Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith. The author has said herself that
It was a very gloomy world to have to go into every dayThe story follows Margaret Prior, a lady who becomes a visitor at the dark and opressing Millbank Prison. She becomes increasingly close to one inmate, Selina Dawes; a disgraced spiritualist who soon encaptures Miss Prior's heart and mind. The book jumps from the present relationship that the women have to the events leading up to Selina's imprisonment. The reader is given the task of deciding whether Miss Dawes is a fraud or if she does truly have spiritual powers.
The imagery in the book is excellent and the description of Millbank with it's dark corridors and damp, limestone walls really do make you feel quite stifled. I think that this is why I found the book quite difficult to read; it may sound strange but it really did not fee…

Manual Labour

I missed Booking Through Thursday last week as I wasn't very well but thought that I would have a go this week so here you are:

Writing guides, grammar books, punctuation how-tos . . . do you read them? Not read them? How many writing books, grammar books, dictionaries–if any–do you have in your library?
Well I have just had a quick scan of my shelves and the only thing I can see is a Dictionary and Thesaurus which to be fair is always by my desk and regularly used. I think that the only time I have had a writing guide was when I was trying to write my university dissertation but to be fair it really did not help much! I did English at University so I probably did have a lot of grammar guides a few years ago but they have since gone to better homes. I believe that the English Language has SO many rules and regulations that it is just better to learn th e basic rules and then try and get on as best as you can; you do not want to have to keep picking up a book to check. I am sure tha…

Notes from an exhibition by Patrick Gale

Patrick Gale's book Notes from an exhibition centres around the life of renowned artist Rachel Kelly who suffers from Bipolar Disorder. Gale explores the effects that mental illness has on a family as a whole. The book is heavily characterised and the reader gradually discovers the consequences that Kelly's illness has had for each of her children and also her devoted husband Anthony.

Gale is particularly clever in the way he opens each chapter with an exhibition note about a piece of Kelly's work. You gradually build up a picture of the kind of art that she created and the images described become very vivid and real. The book does jump back and forth in time which I usually find quite irritating but it was really well done and allowed you to get a good account of Kelly's life as a whole.

It did take me a while to get into this book but I did enjoy it, I think that the author dealt with a really serious issue in a very sensitive but informative manner.

Booking Through Thursday

This is my first Booking Through Thursday , I kept seeing it on other peoples pages and thought that I would give it a go.

Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?
Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year?

Hmmm, when I initially read this question I felt that my reading habits do not change throughout the year but looking back over what I have actually read, they clearly do. In the Autumn and Winter I do seem to prefer something a bit darker, murder mysteries etc and I seem to read more light hearted fiction as the days get lighter. I still read as much during the Spring and Summer but I do love to curl up with a good book when the weather is horrible outside, there is definitely something comforting about that.

37 out of 1001

My lovely, lovely, lovely sister over at Fairy cakes and more bought me this book which I had been wanting for absolutely ages! It arrived in the post this weekend and I finally got to sit and have a good look through it last night. It is a really lovely present, there's about 300 words about each entry and beautiful pictures througout. Obviously the best bit is that it is all about books!! I am really excited about adding lots of these to my TBR list. As many of the reviews say, not everyone will agree with the list and there were many books that I were shocked not to find. It is a good starting point however to lead you to books that you may not have read; after counting up last night I have only managed 37 out of 1001 so I had best go and update my Amazon wish list!

Busy, busy busy!

I have definitely fallen behind with my reading but there has been quite a lot going on- our dog Henry had to go for an operation and has needed lots of fuss and careful watching; this has not been aided by the fact that he ate a whole sock on his return so we are eagerly anticipating it's reappearance or another trip to the vets! Mr medical student and I have also finally decided to actually set a date and get married next year. We have been engaged forever but we now will be taking our vows in July 2009 so I admit that I have spent many an hour since looking at pictures of wedding dresses and cakes. However we have plenty of time to plan and make copious lists so I intend to sort myself out this week and finish Notes from an Exhibition, which until I was distracted I was really enjoying so more about that later in the week!

Friday Offering

Digging by Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound When the spade sinks into gravelly ground: My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds Bends low, comes up twenty years away Stooping in rhythm through potato drills Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft Against the inside knee was levered firmly. He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep To scatter new potatoes that we picked Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade. Just like his old man.
My grandfather cut more turf in a day Than any other man on Toner's bog. Once I carried him milk in a bottle Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up To drink it, then fell to right away Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods Over his shoulder, going down and down For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap Of soggy peat, the curts cu…

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is my favourite book so I am always a bit anxious when I read anything else by her although I loved My Cousin Rachel. However somebody bought me a lovely boxed set of Du Maurier's novels and I decided to try this one first as I am saving Rebeccafor a re-read when I go on holiday. I have to say that I was not disappointed, unfortunately I hurt my back last week so was forced into a very upright chair with a bag of frozen peas to ease the pain; I couldn't really do much but read and this book was perfect for such an occasion. Once I had started reading I could not put it down and it was finished within two days. The main character is Lady Dona St Columb- she is beautiful and rebellious and in search of an escape from the courtly life which she has to share with her odious husband. She takes leave to Navron House; the family estate in Cornwall, leaving her husband and her other persona behind. At first Dona is content in enjoying the solitude and play…

The Savage Garden by Mark Mills

I love Italy and anything to do with its history and culture and I think this is what led me to read this book. The author, Mark Mills is a graduate of Camridge University and has himself lived in Italy. His first and only other novel The Whaleboat House won the Crime Writer's Association Award for Best Novel by a debut author in 2004; another one to add to my TBR list!
The Savage Garden is set in Tuscany in 1958; the protagonist Adam Strickland, a Cambridge scholar is sent to the Villa Docci in order to use its memorial garden as the subject of his impending thesis.
As Adam unravels the secrets hidden within the garden he also discovers that the current members of the Docci family have things to hide. There are two separate stories of love, jealousy, revenge and murder separated by 400 years which lead Adam into the Docci family's tangled web.

I was totally gripped by this book, it is a great murder mystery but it also offers so much more. Mills has created Villa Docci and its g…

Letters from Menabilly

This came in the post today, reading through dovegreyreader's blog and the recent media interest in Daphne by Justine Picardie I realised that I had not dipped into Du Maurier world for a while. This seems like something a bit different, they are the letters between Daphne Du Maurier and Oriel Malet who was a writer twenty years younger. Their friendship spanned over 3o years and the letters between the two women are said to offer an insight into Daphne Du Maurier as a person and how her life influenced her writing. I am nearly three quarters of the way through The Savage Garden by Mark Mills and I am really enjoying it- I love it when one book leads you on to read another and this sent me searching for a copy of Dante's The Divine Comedy which I have never taken the time to read but it features as a theme in Mill's book so I am going to give it a go also.

Friday Offering

I have decided that once a week I will post a little piece of literature on my blog, something that I have enjoyed in the week. I really loved poetry when I did my English degree so I am trying to get back into it again; Christina Rossetti is one of my favourites so here you are:
Remember me when I am gone away, Gone far away into the silent land: When you can no more hold me by the hand. Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. Remember me when no more day by day You tell me of our future that you plann'd: Only remember me; you understand It will be late to counsel then or pray. Yet if you should forget me for a while And afterwards remember, do not grieve: For if the darkness and corruption leave A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad.

Scary Times

I decided yesterday that I would buy an audio book for those times when it is not always possible to have a book in front of you but you wouldn't mind listening to one- times like ironing and washing up- these activities require some kind of entertainment to make them bearable! So I had a look on itunes and came across The Woman in Black by Susan Hill- I have heard about this book before and also it's success as a West End show. I am a little bit anxious about listening to it though as all of the reviews I read suggested sleepless nights and terror! I do really love ghost stories though and this one seems to have all the right ingredients so we shall see!

Restoring Grace by Katie Fforde

I really enjoyed this book, it's Chick Lit but it is definitely the best Chick Lit that I have recently read. I regret to say that I had not really taken any notice of Katie Fforde but I swapped this with someone and I'm really pleased and excited as she has written loads of books which I will of course have to catch up on.

The book follows Grace Soudley and Ellie Summers as theyboth try to get their lives back on track. Grace has recently divorced the over-bearing Edward and has been left Luckenham House by her Aunt but the house seems to be falling down around her and Grace is short of cash. Ellie, newly single and pregnant is taken in by Grace and the two women embark on a friendship that they both quite clearly needed.

Thrown into this mixture are Flynn Cormack- the gorgeous Irish Man determined to help Grace; Demi- Grace's ex-step-daughter who is looking for a home and a maternal figure; and Allegra and Nicholas- Grace's greedy siblings who put the pressure on her …

3 Days to go!!!!!!

I have only got three days to go until I can eat chocolate which I regrettably gave up for Lent. I say regrettably because the idea of giving it up was that I ate far too much of it so I thought that a 40 day break would do me good but I have found a surpising amount of non-chocolate substitutes to fill the past 40 days so have kind of defeated the object!
We are going away for the weekend to stay in a lovely barn in the Peak District; the converted kind of barn not the barn that animals sleep in kind. I have already planned the many different ways that chocolate will be featuring during our mini-holiday and will be doing lots of baking tomorrow- this will be a true test- making chocolate cakes without licking the bowl afterwards!!

Facing the Light by Adele Geras

I loved this book, I think it is my favourite of the year so far! I love books set in country houses with eccentric families and mysteries and long-kept secrets; this book has all of that.

Facing the Light centres round the Walsh family with Leonora as the matriarch; the extended family are coming together for the weekend to celebrate the milestone of her 75th Birthday. Leonora is the daughter of Ethan Walsh the celebrated artist whose work hangs throughout Willow Court. She has two daughters, Gwen and Rilla; their children then make up the extended family circle.

Leonora's childhood was blighted by the death of her mother as Rilla's life has been overshadowed by the death of her young son at Willow Court. Throughout the book secrets and mysteries are unravelled and characters perceptions of their family members are greatly challenged. Adele Geras has created a family of very different and eccentric characters who are all entirely believeable but not all necessarily likeable.

It …

Then we Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

Well I finished this book this morning and I really cannot decide whether I liked it or not. The book is set in a failing Chicago advertising agency which is what mainly drew me to the book as up until six months ago I was working in a failing advertising department for a newspaper so I suppose I may have been looking for a little bit of nostalgia. The characters are the driving force of Ferris' work as until the end not much happens. The characters are fantastic though, you have Marcia Dwyer who has hair from the 80's; Tom Mota who does not leave when sacked; Larry and Amber having an affair; Lynn Mason dying from Cancer and Joe Pope who nobody really knows anything about. Ferris has captured perfectly office life and the inevitable office politics that comes with it. As I was reading I could identify with so much of it; the meetings about meetings, the pointless e mails; being territorial about your stationary and working alongside people all day but not really knowing them. …

Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day Everyone!! When I was younger we had to dress up as our favourite fictional character on this day and my school would hold a competition for the best costume. However now being 25 and working from home- dressing up probably isn't appropriate!

Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer

After acquiring my new glasses this morning I decided to test them out by finishing Regency Buck this afternoon. Georgette Heyer has written over 50 historical novels dealing in particular with the Regency period.
I usually love books of this type and was really looking forward to reading it but I have to be honest that it took quite a lot of effort not to abandon it before the end. I think this has more to do with it perhaps just not being the right book for me at the moment and it has not put me off reading other Heyer novels.
The book follows the beautiful and wilful Judith Taverner and her brother Peregrine who are left in the care of their guardian Julian St John Audley, the Fifth Earl of Worth after the death of their father. He is what Judith would describe as a 'dandy'- a member of the fashionable Bow-window set and the man that is ultimately in charge of her destiny. The reader follows Judith as she enters the social london scene and its many pitfalls and faux pauxs. It…

Henry Bassett

I thought that I should probably introduce Henry Bassett to my blog as he is often either my reading companion or the reason why I have not had time to read during the day. He is nine months old and the sweet, butter would not melt exterior you can see hides the mischevious, stubborn little minx that he truly is! My partner and I often think that he has been sent to well and truly test us. His parents told us that they did not think it the best idea to get a dog but we decided to be spontaneous and a ten hour round trip to Wales resulted in Henry becoming the new member of the family!
I absolutely love him, don't get me wrong but he has definitely tested our patience on many an occasion, don't let those sad eyes and long ears fool you!!

34 Days Left!!

I still have 34 days left until Lent is over and I can eat chocolate again! I am absolutely fine; I have not found myself sitting there thinking about chocolate (which is unusual) but I am not fine when other people have chocolate in front of me! Mr S (my other half), unfortunately is waiting for his second year medic exam results this week therefore he has been very stressed and eating copious amounts of chocolate digestives and I have had to simply watch rather than joining in and he thinks he is being ever so funny by offering me the occasional one.
Reading wise this week things have been good, obviously I finished The Kite Runner which was excellent and I wanted to read something different so I decided to go for a regency drama in the form of Regency Buck, plus it allows me to knock another one off my TBR challenge. I am really enjoying it; I have always loved this kind of book but had not heard of Georgette Heyer until she was recommended by a friend but I have to say that I am l…

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

On a Winter's day in 1975 Amir witnesses an awful act involving his childhood friend Hassan that will have unimaginable bearings on the rest of his life. Amir is the privaleged son of a rich and respected merchant in Afghanistan; Hassan is the son of his father's long-time servant Ali. Although from different ends of the spectrum, the boys share a childhood until the day that changes both of their lives forever.
There are so many themes running through Hosseini's book; friendship, childhood, loyalty, trust, cruelty and redemption are just a few. The author manages to vividly evoke the daily horror of Afghanistan under Taliban rule, especially when mirrored with the security of Amir's new life in San Francisco.
I had constantly put off reading this book as I was worried that all of the hype surrounding it would be unfounded. However, I have to say that this is one of the best books that I have read in such a long time. The Kite Runner is not a nice book, it explores the d…

40 Days and Counting

I have made the decision to give up chocolate for Lent, so for 40 days, until March 22nd, no chocolate in any form can pass my lips! I have to explain that this is a big challenge for me, chocolate is definitely one of my main weaknesses next to handbags. I decided that it was impractical to give my handbag up so chocolate is the next option. Wish me luck!

Slow Reading Weekend

I hardly read this weekend as had people visiting plus been having bad headaches due to needing new contact lenses and having forgotten to visit the opticians since 2005!! This has been remedied though by a visit to the opticians tomorrow plus the arrival of four new books! I have only just realised that they are nearly all off Richard and Judy's Book Club list- not sure if this is a good thing or not. I started The Kite Runner on Saturday afternoon before my friend arrived and was instantly engrossed, I wanted to put the book down even less when she saw what I was reading and said that she had recently finished it and had loved it.
I have knocked one book off my TBR 2008 Challenge list and I am going to try and decide this week what to read next from my 11 options, I really want to re-read all the Harry Potter books too so I may have to set myself another challenge for that.

First Lady by Michael Dobbs

I was given this book by my future mother-in-law to read as she had enjoyed it whilst on holiday. I have never read anything by this author before although I have watched The House of Cards which was originally a novel by Dobbs.

The protagonist in the book is Ginny Edge, who at the beginning of the book is quite a normal housewife to the MP Dominic Edge. However upon finding out that her husband has had an affair; Ginny sets out on a path of utter ruthlessness to make her husband the Prime Minister and herself his First Lady. Characters along the way are as you would expect, sleazy politicians and head-line hungry newspaper editors. Ginny's day to day life and struggles run parallel to the character of Ajok Arab, an immigrant from the Sudan struggling to carve out a new life in Britain for herself and her two children. By the end of the book the two women's lived become intertwined as Ginny uses Ajok to score some much needed political points for her husband's election bid…

So many books!!

I had the lovely surprise this moring of receiving an unexpected Amazon gift voucher- I wasted no time in going on-line and picking some books which are now on their way. I make this sound incredible easy but it took me nearly all morning to pick what I wanted to read as there were just so many to choose from. This is what I truly love about reading, there will always be something out there that catches your attention. I am new to blogging but over the past few weeks I have been inspired to investigate so many books simply by reading the blogs of others. Of course part of me hopes that someone will one day read this amateur blog and find it interesting but really I have already learnt and gained so much.

The Girls by Lori Lansen

This book is the story of Rose and Ruby Darlen, the world's oldest, surviving craniopagus twins. Written as an autobiography, mainly from Rose's viewpoint, the reader is taken on a journey of the sister's lives.
Although forced to be each other's constant companion, Lansen subtly displays to the reader how the girls are two very different people with vastly different inerests having to accomodate each others needs. Throughout the book Rose and Ruby often give you their own very different accounts of an event or experience and make assumptions as to what the other sister is feeling and thinking.
The book slowly draws you in, you expect the sisters to be extraordinary but it is the other characters and events that keep you turning the pages; by the end of the book I was left feeling like a part of the Darlen family.
Running throughout the book is the incredible bond that the sisters share even though they have never once been able to look into each others eyes. However, it…

Not going well so far!

My resolution for 2008 was to read far more books than I managed to read in 2007- so we are nearly half way through January and I have read only one and just started The Girls so definitely need to get a move on! There is just so much that I want to read- I have a large amount of books sitting on the shelf that I bought last year and did not get round to. Therefore I am setting myself a challenge to try and read all the leftovers from last year by the beginning of February and then I have the perfect excuse to buy more books!!

Devil in the Kitchen by Marco Pierre White is not the kind of book that I would normally read but I loved it! Until Hell's Kitchen was screened last year I did not know who the infamous chef was but after watching the programme I was intrigued. The book is obviously about how Marco Pierre White rose to be the only British chef to achieve 3 Michelin stars but along the way there is so much more. You get to glimpse behind the scenes at some of the most prestigi…