Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Ugh ...

Hmmm ... I seem to be choosing the wrong books lately! Another 1* read came in the form of The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.

I'm finding it difficult to think of anything nice to say about this one! What a horrible bunch of characters. I think I'll just leave it there!

What made it even more disappointing was that it was my first read on my brand sparkling new KINDLE!!! Oh my, I never expected to love this gadget as much as I do! I'm sure I won't ever give up "tree" books completely, but I can definitely see me using the Kindle more than I thought I would! I do miss seeing the nice pretty book covers, but I think I can live without them ...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

30 Day Challenge

Day 8 - the book you can quote the best

Hmmm, I would have to say Hamlet for this, purely because we studied it for finals at school and it was drummed into me. I do love Hamlet, my favourite of all Shakesepeare's works (well, those I've read - I'm not pretending to have read them all!).

After only several days of dropping major hints, my hubby came home from a trip to buy tropical fish with a Kindle for me! Woohoo! So excited about this :) I've downloaded a few free books, and a couple of books from the Spring Spectacular on Amazon ... now I need to get reading :)

Also, please excuse the mess ... I'm trying to make a new blog header to match my new colour scheme ....

Book Blogger Hop!

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read!

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question comes from Christina who blogs at The Paperback Princesses. She asks:

"If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?"

Yes, yes, yes! I do tend to become a bit author-obsessed if I find one I love! I certainly try and read all their books, but not necessarily one after another as even the most amazing authors can become a bit samey after a while. It does happen that I fall out of love with an author as their writing progresses and changes though - Patricia Cornwell is a perfect example here. I read her early books obsessively, paying out for hardbacks as soon as they were published, but her last 4 or 5 books have not grabbed me in the same way.

I think my newest discovery/obsession will be Mo Hayder. I have just finished reading Birdman (thanks Ellie!) and am now hunting down the next in the series!

Friday, 22 April 2011

30 Day Challenge ...

I'm not doing very well keeping up with this, am I?!

Day 6 - a book you either couldn't finish or struggled to:

The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns - I'm not sure why, but I just did not click with this book.

Day 7 - A book that reminds you of somewhere

An Act of Terror by Andre Brink - a powerful story that immediately transports me back to South Africa where I grew up.

(to read more about the books, just click on the title - links to Amazon)

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

30 Day Book Challenge

Day 4 - a book you lent out once, never got back and miss

Hmmm, this is a tough one! Either I have trustworthy friends or I don't lend out my books enough! I did lend Twilight to a friend who took ages to read it, then my daughter wanted to read it so I bought another copy for ... and then of course the friend returned the first copy!

Day 5 - a book you've read the most times.

This would be the entire Harry Potter series, but specifically I suppose the first one has been read the most, because it's the first and I had to re-read them all in order every time a new one was published!

Monday, 18 April 2011

30 Day Challenge - Day 3

What is your favourite book to recommend to friends?

This changes regularly, but at the moment, it is The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland. It's a weighty tome, but a fast paced read, absolutely absorbing and interesting!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

30 Day Challenge - Day 2

The second day on the 30 Day Challenge asks for your least favourite book of all time!

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre.
Bleak, grim, depressing. There is not a single ray of sunshine held within the covers of this book.

Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender


On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother - her cheerful, can-do mother - tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal. Rose's gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden - truths about her mother's life outside the home, her father's strange detachment and her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up, she realises there are some secrets that even her taste buds cannot discern. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the heartbreak of loving those whom you know too much about. It is profound and funny, wise and sad, and Aimee Bender's dazzling prose illuminates the strangeness of everyday life.

First of all, what a title! It instantly piques the interest and intrigues ... but overall the story falls a little short of it's promise. This is a thoughtful tale of Rose, who can taste people's feelings through their cooking. The writing is gentle and flowing and the premise thought provoking - but what a burden to have to bear! Poor Rose discovers things she really doesn't want to know, and how awful would it be to be unable to enjoy food simply for what it is?!

I think this book suffered a little from lack of plot development. Rose as a character does not really develop through the story until the very end, and the whole mystery of Joseph's "special skill" is perhaps just a bit too bizarre and pointless. The conclusion felt rushed and sudden, and quite unsatisfying.

All this is not say I didn't enjoy the book - I did. But I think Aimee Bender missed a trick ... with a little more tweaking of the plot, this could have been an amazing and unusual read. As it is, it is just a bit strange.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, 16 April 2011

30 Day Challenge!

I saw this over on So Many Books, So Little Time and thought I'd give it a bash ...

Day 1: Your Favourite Book Of All Time

When I was 16, I saw my beloved English teacher reading Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. It had a gorgeous cover (not the one shown) and I was desperate to read it. So read it I did, and it instantly became a favourite! I've loved it ever since, absolutely my favourite classic ... it might be time for a re-read, and I might even treat myself to a new copy!

Review: The Woman He Loved Before by Dorothy Koomson

The Blurb (from
Libby has a nice life with a gorgeous husband and a big home by the sea. But over time she is becoming more unsure if Jack has ever loved her ? and if he is over the death of Eve, his first wife. When fate intervenes in their relationship, Libby decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect Eve. Eventually Libby stumbles across some startling truths about Eve, and is soon unearthing more and more devastating family secrets. Frightened by what she finds and the damage it could cause, Libby starts to worry that she too will end up like the first woman Jack loved...Tense and moving, The Woman He Loved Before explores if the love you want is always the love you need ? or deserve.

My Review
This book made my family grumpy. I was gripped from the beginning and could not put it down. The family were ignored for a couple of days, guests were given short shrift!

Dorothy Koomson manages to create such wonderful characters - lovable, likeable, beautiful, characters you want to be friends with ... and characters you love to hate too. She weaves a wonderful story around Jack and Libby, gently teasing out the sinister details, to create a tense, emotional and touching love story.

The details of Eve's life, told through diaries found by Libby, are sad and depressing. But ultimately the inner strength of both Eve and Libby is uplifting and wonderful. It is a rare book that gets a 5/5 from me, but for this one it was easy. Koomson's earlier novel, Ice Cream Girls, was one of my favourites, and she has done it again with The Woman He Loved Before. Absolutely one of my favourite authors.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, 15 April 2011

Not Really a Review ...

Oh, David Mitchell, why do I not get on with you? I tried, but failed miserably. I know I'm in the minority here - I have read so many glowing (gushing?) reviews about The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. I saw David Mitchell interviewed on BBC News recently and thought he seemed like a really lovely man - this is what pushed me to try the book. I've had Cloud Atlas on my TBR shelf for ages, and I have even picked it up once or twice, but put it back after a couple of pages, thinking I wasn't in the right mood for it. I really wanted to like this new book but sadly it wasn't to be!

I managed to stick with it for 80 or so pages. Several things were irritating me. I had no idea what was going on - there didn't really seem to be any sort of plot developing, and with so many characters I was having trouble keeping track of who was who. The pigeon English of the Japanese characters was really getting on my nerves. But there was one small thing that was annoying me beyond belief, and that was Mitchell's style of writing ... the way he breaks up dialogue in the middle of a sentence ... some random examples:

"From what mouse-hole," Marinus glares "did you spring?"
"Where," the prisoner manages to croak, "am I to be incarcerated?"
"Did I" - Ouwehand consults the ceiling - "utter a single word?"

I just found the writing to be so disjointed and non-flowy (yes, it's a word ;)) and it BUGGED ME! Sorry, David, I'm afraid your writing is just not for me. 1/5

On a different subject ... boys and reading. I have a 9 year old son who is very clever. He is in year 4 and is attaining levels expected in year 6. Obviously, he can read. Very well. But it is so difficult to get him interested in a book! He went through a stage of devouring the Beast Quest books, but eventually got a bit bored with them, then discovered Football Academy books, but he zips through them in half a day. He enjoyed all the Wimpy Kid books. I know he hasn't read a book at home for a long time. So this Easter holidays I set him and his 12 year old sister (similar problems with her actually!) a challenge to read two books. Just two. I didn't want to push it. We went to the library and he chose the three books in the post below. He said he would count the two Football Academy books as one as they are so quick to read. Unfortunately Eye of the Sun didn't grab him. So earlier in the week we went shopping and stopped off in Waterstones where he chose this:

Seriously, get your 9 year old boys this book! He was engrossed! Yes, it was a quick read, he finished it the same day, but I didn't hear a peep out of him (except for a few chuckles). I've had a quick look at it myself, and it is FUNNY! There are more to come in this series and I can't wait for them to be published! Anything that gets boys reading makes me happy :)

Monday, 11 April 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is my first time taking part in this meme from Bookjourney, so here goes!

I managed to finish two books over the weekend - the first was Gallows View by Peter Robinson

This is the first in the Inspector Banks series, which comes highly recommended to me by my mother, amongst many others. I was a little disappointed, to be honest, but I'll try a couple more as I think the series will improve as it goes on - this first one seemed a bit slow and very dated!

My second read of the weekend was Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.

This is a book that has been sitting on my TBR pile for ages. I decided to get it read as it is on patchworkbunny's wishlist so I said I'd swap with her. I really enjoyed the more gruesome chapters in this book, but I'm afraid the rest I found a bit boring and was again disappointed.

A quick visit to the library today, as it's the beginning of the Easter holidays and I'm lucky enough to work term-time only, and this is what we came home with:

I've started this one first. I haven't read anything by David Mitchell before, though again, Cloud Atlas has been on my TBR shelf forever ... not sure why it hasn't appealed! We'll see how I get on with this one.

I love Dorothy Koomson's books - Ice Cream Girls was a great read, and I hope this one lives up to my expectations!

Natasha picked up these two:

... which I've just realised is the second in the series - luckily I have the first so she can read that first. And

And Freddie came home with two Football Academy books and

Some good reading to be done this week :)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A small charity shop haul!

All this for a fiver! Well, actually Gallows View was a swap from Read It Swap It, but the other four - charity shop bargains! And in fact they came to about £3.50, but I felt like I was stealing at that price, so gave the lady a fiver and told her to keep the change. I bought Pig Island by Mo Hayder as I've heard good things about her and have never read any of her books, so thought I'd give it a go. Echo in the Bone I bought because I have the first in the series on my TBR, and it was such a huge book for 80p I couldn't resist. The two Stephenie Meyer books I bought for Natasha - I've read them and stupidly swapped them on, but she is now reading Twilight so she'll be moving onto these next ...

I love a good charity shop haul!

Review: Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay

The Blurb (from
It starts with a trip to a local amusement park. David Harwood is hoping a carefree day at Five Mountains will help dispel his wife Jan's recent depression, black moods that have led to frightening thoughts of suicide. Instead, a day of fun with their four-year-old son Ethan turns into a nightmare. When Jan disappears from the park, David's worst fears seem to have come true. But when he goes to the police to report her missing, terrified that she's planning to take her own life, the facts start to indicate something very different. The park's records show that only two tickets were purchased, David and Ethan's, and CCTV shows no evidence that Jan ever entered the park at all. Suddenly David's story starts to look suspicious - suspicious enough for the police to wonder if she's already dead, murdered by her husband. To prove his innocence and keep his son from being taken away from him, David is going to have to dig deep into the past and come face to face with a terrible childhood tragedy - but by doing that he could risk destroying everything precious to him.

The Review
Looking for a gripping thriller of a read? Linwood Barclay knows how to do it. Never Look Away is his fourth novel and I would almost say his best yet. In his previous books the plot has tended to run away with him a little, and there's always a point where you think "oh, come on, this would NEVER happen!". But that point doesn't really come in Never Look Away ... although there is one twist in the plot which does come close to being unbelievable, but I'll give Mr Barclay the benefit of the doubt. It did take me a little while to get into this one, but once I knew I was hooked I checked the page number and I was on page 101, so it didn't take all that long.

Never Look Away tells the story of a man looking for his wife. A wife who, he discovers, is not who she says she is and who he doesn't really know at all. The police, of course, think he has done her in and this is really quite a scary concept, being taken for guilty until proven innocent! I can only imagine the terror of being wrongly accused of murdering someone you love, someone you are desperate to find.

This is by no means a literary masterpiece, but it is most certainly a page turner with an absorbing plot and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good thriller!

My Rating: 4/5

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Review: No and Me by Delphine De Vigan

Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend called Lucas who gets her through the school day. At home her father cries in secret in the bathroom and her mother hasn't been out of the house properly for years. But Lou is about to change her life - and that of her parents - for good, all because of a school project she decides to do about the homeless. Through the project Lou meets No, a teenage girl living on the streets. As their friendship grows, Lou cannot bear that No is still on the streets when she goes back home - even if it is to a home that is saddened and desolate. So she asks her parents if No can come to live with them. To her astonishment, her parents - eventually - agree. No's presence forces Lou and her parents to finally face the sadness that has enveloped them. But No has disruptive as well as positive effects. Can this shaky, newfound family continue to live together? A tense, brilliant novel tackling the true meanings of home and homelessness.

One of the reviews on the back of this book describes it as being "funny and tender" (Yorkshire Evening Post). While I agree wholeheartedly with the "tender" description, I did not find it funny as a whole. There were some amusing moments, but there was always a slightly sinister feel in the background (perhaps "sinister" is too strong a word) and overall I found this to be a sad tale of homelessness, dysfunctional families and painful adolescence. This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the book - it is a touching story and I raced through it, hoping for a happy ending ...

Delphine De Vigan draws wonderful characters with her words. I felt great sympathy for homeless No and desperately wanted things to turn out well for, though perhaps it says more about me than No that I was waiting for her to "slip up". Lou, the genius who doesn't fit in, is infinitely likeable even through her mistakes.

Oddly, this book reminded me of Eve Green by Susan Fletcher in the way it was written, although Eve Green is not one of my favourite books by a long shot! No and Me is a lyrical and thought provoking novel and one I would highly recommend. The fact that it is set in Paris is a happy bonus!

My Rating: 4/5