Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book-a-Day 30: Would save if my house burned down

As I sit here pondering the answer to this I can see my overloaded bookshelves and I can’t think of a single book I wouldn’t be prepared to sacrifice if it was a choice between me or them.  But at the same time it’s like trying to choose which of your children you save.  They all have a piece of my heart.

For sentimental reasons I would probably want Jane Eyre, because of what reading it signified to me.  Or maybe Rabbiting On, as a rediscovered childhood favourite.  For financial reasons it would probably be either my first edition of The Bone Season, my Folio editions, my signed first editions of The Southern Reach trilogy, or my signed Nora Roberts books.

Though to be honest my apartment is so small that if I had enough time to sort through books to find the one I'd save, I could probably have enough time to put the fire out.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book-a-Day 29: The one I have re-read most often

I don’t tend to re-read to be honest.  There are far too many books in this world to go back and read one I already know the ending to, though I have re-read most of the Harry Potter books.  The earlier books I have re-read a few times.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book-a-Day 28: Bought at my favourite independent bookshop

So many… but in particular I am really enjoying the book that I'm reading right now.  I bought it in the second book spa from Mr B’s, and can’t believe I waited so long to start it.  It’s one of those wonderful all too rare books that you can’t bear to put down.  When you are forced to put it down you can’t stop thinking about it, and you pretty much itch until the next time you can sit and read it.

I am waxing on about  The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  It’s book one of a trilogy called The Kingkiller Chronicle, though there appear to be a few novella’s and apparently a further series in the planning for the same universe though different characters.  Book two is also available, but book three is tantalisingly not even listed on Amazon UK as far as I can tell… how frustrating.

EDIT:  Review to appear here later this week.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Book-a-Day 27: Want to be one of the characters

Hmmm, this is a difficult one as rather than imagine myself as one of the characters I tend to imagine what would happen if I, Lorraine, were inserted into the book as me.  

What if I was with Jane when Rochester nearly knocked her over on his horse… 
what if I was a student at the University with Kvothe?  
What if Karou had two friends, Zuzanna and me?  

I’m afraid this is the one day that I just cannot give you a book.  In all honesty for the good books I read, I imagine myself into every scene.  Sometimes a silent observer, sometimes an active participant in events.

Even if the book is written in the first person I (Lorraine) imagine that I (the narrator) see me (Lorraine) standing nearby.  Do you do this?  I find it surprisingly easy, given that I as the narrator am not myself.  

Return tomorrow for the next instalment of Crazy Book Lady presents.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book-a-Day 26: Should have sold more copies

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  

I’m sure this sold plenty, and certainly enough to get the attention of Hollywood, as it’s being turned into a film (insert prayer to the God of book to movie adaptations).  

But I think everyone should have a copy of this, and as I know many people don’t, it logically follows that it should have sold more.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book-a-Day 25: Never finished it

How do you decide that you’ve never finished a book?  

I have started many and consider them not finished yet.  That doesn’t mean I won’t, just that I haven’t got around to it yet.  Instead I can only say that there are a few books I know I will never finish.  

The one that springs out at me I found to be truly awful (imho).  I am 100% certain that I will never finish Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka.  Dreadful, so bad I'm not even going to post a photo...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book-a-Day 24: Hooked me into reading

I count my reading history in two distinct phases, so I have two books for today.  The first was bought for me for Christmas by my late Uncle Stephen, and is probably the first book I enjoyed reading that wasn't forced upon me by my school.  I was 5 or 6, and the ladybird books that the school had weren't much of a challenge or particularly interesting.  Five Fall Into Adventure by Enid Blyton.  I don't know why he started on book 9, but it was enough to get me hooked.

Last week I was in Corfe, near the castle and they have an Enid Blyton shop.  I found some 1950's editions, for a fairly reasonable £10, but sadly no first editions :-(

The second book I bought nearly 30 years after the first.  Between the ages of about 11 and 32 I read mostly romance and chick-lit.  At 32 and living in Australia I had to change my reading habits.  Thanks to the bookstore across the road (Angus and Robertson) having a Top 100 list I was able to pick books pretty much guaranteed to be good.  Books are very expensive in Australia and you feel like you have to treat each one as an investment, especially if, like me, you don’t have much disposable income.  A book you could buy for £8 in the UK would be at that time about £20 in Australia!  A new release could be more like £35!  

I decided to try a classic, for one thing they were slightly cheaper (maybe £16), plus for a book over 150 years old to make a modern top 100 list I figured it had to be worth a try.  I picked Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I loved it, and ever since I've focussed on reading anything but chick-lit

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book-a-Day 23: Made to read at school

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  The only book to make it onto the list twice in any significant way.  Hated it then, but love it now.  Let me be clear, it’s always been a fabulous book of course, and had I read it as a choice of my own I would have loved it then.  

But I hated school and by extension all school enforced activities, ergo I hated it because I had no choice but to read it.

I finally got around to reading it a year or two ago (time flies!) and it's pure magic.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book-a-Day 22: Out of print

This one flummoxed me I'm afraid.  With the advent of eReaders and the fact that I tend to buy new books, rather than secondhand, I don't know if I have any that are out of print.

The closest I think I can get to that is Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson.  It was originally published in the 1930's, and out of print for a long while, until 2000, when Persephone Books re-printed.  I for one am very glad they did.  It's fabulous and gave a single 40 year old (me) hope for the future.

EDIT:  I was looking for a copy of Rabbiting On from day 7 on Amazon (mine is old and battered and the cover is barely hanging on, and I’ve written on the inside my name and class number at school).  Anyway, I figure it has to be out of print now (originally published 1978), as only one new copy is available, priced at just short of £2500!!!  Used copies are priced from 1p.

Sadly mine is in such poor condition it probably isn't worth more than 1p at best.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book-a-Day 21: Summer read

IF you want a fun, light, entertaining read with action, humour and fantastical flights of fancy in forgotten fairytale lands, you can’t go far wrong with a tale about magic, witches, romance and royal murders... 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book-a-Day 20: Favourite cover

I gave this answer to a question posed some time ago by the lovely Helen at Fennell Books, I’ve still got the same answer… It’s got to be The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw.  

I have the hardback copy, and not only is it a pretty cover but it is edged in silver, and it’s just beautiful.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book-a-Day 19: Still cant stop talking about it

Anyone who has followed this blog at all in the past can probably take a good guess at what my selection for today is.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.  I could have used this book on about half of this book a day list I think, but have tried to hold back so as not to totally bore everyone silly.

Not only was it a Book Spa recommended book by my favourite bookseller in Bath, recently I was in Heffers, the biggest bookshop in Cambridge and two of Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards books published so far are Top Staff Picks… Lies and the third book Republic of Thieves.  In case you needed any more convincing.

A TIP:  For those who read it for the first time, Lynch spends a good deal of time building Locke's world.  Stick with the first 150 pages and it will be worth it!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book-a-Day 18: Bought on a recommendation

Ever since I lived in Australia in 2006 and first found Angus and Robertson’s Top 100 list nearly every book I have bought has been the result of a recommendation of one kind or another.  

One of the most surprising was Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.  A book for book lovers, and an intriguing mystery too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book-a-Day 17: Future classic

New out this year – The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.  Starting with book 1 - Annihilation.  This is the first book in a trilogy all to be published in 2014.

I am reading my way through book 2 (Authority), and am very confused and perplexed.  I have no idea what's going on, except that it's Very. Strange. Indeed.

Book 1 is set in Area X, where a team of unnamed professionals have been sent on an expedition to investigate.  It is a strange place that nature has reclaimed, and drastically affects anyone who dares to enter.  

Book 2 is set at the Southern Reach HQ, following the new Director, after the last one went into Area X and never came out.

It is a very dark series, and I have just seen on Wikipedia that it is a SciFi Horror.  I suppose that's why it makes me feel quite uncomfortable to read.  It's unsettling, yet compelling.  I really want to get to the bottom of things.

These books are so highly anticipated the film rights were apparently bought before the first in the series was even published.  So there you are, a future classic if ever there was!  I certainly hope so, I managed to order myself some signed first editions from Mr B's that I picked up at the weekend.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Book Club Dilemma

Having moved recently I'm no longer an official member of my old book club (whom I REALLY miss!!), and am now trying to choose between two new clubs here in Cambridgeshire.

Book Club One meets every first Thursday of the month at 7:30 in a hotel bar a few minutes walk from my house.  There are about 7 or 8 members, and they're reading really interesting books.  One at least co-ordinates book loans from the local library and another is involved with the Cambridge Literary Festival.

Book Club Two also meets every first Thursday of the month at 7:30, but centrally at a pub in Cambridge.  The inaugral meeting is next month, the first book looks really good, and this club is aimed at people who are new to Cambridge, though not too local to home.

Which would you choose?

Book-a-Day 16: Can’t believe more people haven’t read

Well, I have to say here The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.  I LOVED this book.  The characters, the setting, the writing, and especially Lye’s House of Soap.

When I originally read it I published a review, which you can read by clicking HERE if you want to see exactly what I loved about it and why.

I'm sure plenty of people have read it, but unless everyone has read it, well I'm afraid it's just not enough.  There should be a copy in every house, and whenever you feel down, just read the passages set in the House of Soap.  I defy anyone not to be lifted up by it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book-a-Day 15: Favourite fictional father

Over at Fennell Books you'll find the selection for this entry was Mr Weasley, Ron’s father from Harry Potter series, and he was a strong contender, but I had to go in the end with Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.

He’s honest, fair, educated, doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, allows his daughter to be herself, stern when he needs to be, and always there for his children when they need him.  All in all, a thoroughly good man.

Even if you don't give two hoots for my personal opinions he's such a great man that (according to Wikipedia) Atticus Finch was voted the 7th best fictional character in 20th century fiction.

What a Guy! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Book-a-Day 14: An old favourite

I’m not sure whether this category is for a book written years ago that I read recently, or a book I read years ago that is still a favourite.  

So, I've covered both options.  In the former category I have to nominate Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.  Wonderful!

I discovered it as a result of discussions about covering the Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper, of which this is the first in the sequence.  How I missed these books as a child is beyond me, but so pleased to have read them now.  Also, that I invested in the Folio editions, which are beautiful to look at and to read.

In the category of a favourite I read years ago, well there are so many, but I think it has to be The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  I loved these as a child, and re-read them recently.  When I joined the Folio Socliety the joining offer included the Narnia books reduced from over £100 to £9.99    BARGAIN!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Book-a-Day 13: Makes me laugh

I had a bit of a dilemma with this one.  I've read a few books which make me laugh.  Some Ben Elton, some Neil Gaiman, and some truly terrible books that had me laughing in a 'I-cannot-believe-I'm-reading-this' kind of way.  However, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, (my edition contains the first four books in the series) especially the first two books, genuinely had me giggling.

Pretty embarrassing on the bus!  What more can I say?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book-a-Day 12: I pretend to have read it

I try not to do this, though I have to confess I started Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden in 2007 and still have about 30 pages to go.  I should finish it, it’s a great book, but there it sits on the shelf.  Not quite finished, even though it’s on my ‘read’ list on Goodreads.  

Shame on me.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book-a-Day 11: Secondhand bookshop gem

I don’t know of any secondhand bookshops local to my old home, and shame on me I haven’t checked out any here in Cambridge, but I did manage to get second hand copies of the first three books in the Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman for 50p each at a car boot sale.  I have decided that that counts.

Number 4 will have to wait until either another car boot contains a copy, or I've finished reading 1-3 and am compelled to buy number 4.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book-a-Day 10: Reminds me of someone I love

Not much to say with this one, it pretty much speaks for itself.  My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.  Love my sister and would willingly donate an organ for her.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book-a-Day 9: Film or TV tie-in

What a choice!  There are some atrocious adaptations out there, but keeping the mood positive there are many really good adaptations too.  

Recently on holiday we had a Superman marathon, watching all the movies (except the terrible Superman 4), and at home I'm re-watching Smallville, and may then move onto Lois & Clark.  But in case we're not counting graphic novels, which I haven't read by the way, my choice would have to be The Green Mile by Stephen King.

Originally published as a series of 6 in 1996, it has since been published in a single volume.  Not only is it a fabulous book to read, it was turned into a fantastic movie in 1999, directed by Frank Darabont, starring several notables including Tom Hanks and the late Michael Clarke Duncan.

Darabont also directed another King adaptation, The Shawshank Redemption.  I love both of these films, but have not read Shawshank.  I couldn't pick between the two in terms of the film.  Both have wonderful mixes of sadness, glimpses of evil, humour, and also great hope.

I can't read a Stephen King horror without being genuinely frightened (fully fledged, paid up member of the scaredy cat club), but I do really enjoy his general fiction stories.  This will sound strange, but he has a wonderful way of showing that the worst kinds of monsters are the human kind, while at the same time showing you the beauty of humanity right along side it.

If you haven't read or watched The Green Mile, go do both now.  I watched the film before realising that it was a book, and I don't think that it detracted from the book at all. A rare thing indeed.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Book-a-Day 8: Have more than one copy

It has to be The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein.  If I truly love a book I may find that I end up with multiple copies.  I have a few books I 'discovered' as Kindle favourites, but loved so much I wanted that sensory experience of holding and smelling a copy of my very own.  I haven't got to the point where I will seek out a first edition, because unless it's a recent book I just can't afford them.

However, I do have several copies of The Hobbit.  Somewhere in my parents' loft in a dusty box of books yet to be rediscovered I have the first ever paperback copy I read, and another copy in hardback. In addition to those I have a copy on the kindle that I bought to read on holiday while in New Zealand, and I have a beautiful Folio copy which I treasure.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Book-a-Day 7: Forgot I owned it

Rabbiting On and other Poems by Kit Wright, illustrated by Posy Simmonds.

I haven't really ever forgotten that I owned this, but I had thought that I had lost it or given it away.  Until I moved house this year and found it at the bottom of a box.

It's a wonderful collection of funny poetry for children, and given that I am not at all interested in poetry it's significant that it's the only book of poetry I've ever read.  Throughout the years I thought this had gone from my life I remembered one poem in particular and I'll post it here so you can get a feel for what the book holds in store...

The Moon's a big white football
The Sun's a pound of butter
The Earth is going round the twist
And I'm a little nutter.

There you are, the only poetry I can quote by heart.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Book-a-Day 6: The one I always give as a gift

Well, to be honest I don't tend to gift books.  None of those I buy for at Birthdays and Christmas are really into reading, so books tend to be unappreciated by people who are not me.

I get excited when I give gifts, especially when it's a book I've loved.  I want to describe it to them, basic plot and all that, but really I just want to tell them how it made me feel.

My non-reading family say they're too busy or don't have the attention span... personally I 'make' time for reading, and if that means a little dust builds up I'm OK with that.  If I don't have the attention span then I just figure I'm reading the wrong book and I switch.  Not having time/not wanting to read/other strange reason not to read just does not compute :-)

When I do try to gift books I give ones I can personally recommend and that I know will be well received by the reader.  To my sister I gave a copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for Christmas 2013.  I have yet to meet anyone who did not LOVE that book.  Sadly my sister has been reading The Hunger Games Trilogy for nearly two years now so she hasn't started The Book Thief yet.   I so want to talk to her about it, I know she's going to love it, and it's killing me she hasn't read it yet.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Book-a-Day 5: Doesn't Belong To Me

I don't like to borrow books as a rule, but I stayed with family a few weeks back and had nothing to read.

'WHAAAAT' I hear you cry?

I know, right?

My cousin's husband lent me Under The Dome by Stephen King.  It's HUGE, and will take some time to get through, but so far it's not too bad.

I'm pretty pleased with myself now that I didn't watch the TV series, so I don't know what's going to happen.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book-a-Day 4: Least Favourite Book by a Favourite Author

The Witness by Nora Roberts.  Such a pity.

I know that I have mentioned this in one or another of the TTT's I did last year, I thought I had reviewed it too, but apparently though I reviewed it on Goodreads I forgot to post the review here too. Normally this author's books are great, and I thoroughly enjoy reading them, but I felt that there was so much missed potential with this book.  It had a fantastic start, and looked like it might be one of her greatest, but then it just totally fizzled out for me.

The story starts with the heroine as a teenager witnessing a mob hit, and then things get serious.  She has a difficult relationship with her only parent, goes into witness protection, things get nasty, good people die and eventually she escapes and goes into hiding.  And then she settles down into a sweet small town Somewhereville, meets a policeman (Sheriff I think?), um's and ah's for a few pages about starting a relationship with him, and then suddenly everything's nice and normal.  Apart from a couple of townsfolk who want to cause trouble there's nothing that really happens.

There was plenty of potential from those troublesome few who could have dug up some dirt, alerted the mob to her location.  Same with a private detective who appears in the story, is described as really good and thorough (but apparently not good enough), and so on and so forth.  You never really have that feeling that our heroine's secret identity/cover is ever in jeopardy.  I know it's a Nora Roberts romance and the hero and heroine are always going to end up OK, and the baddies will always get what they deserve, but that doesn't mean that you can't put them at risk and make the reader panic for them.

Quite frankly it made me wonder what the Editors were doing.  Are they so convinced that it will do well 'Hey, it's a Nora Roberts book and millions of people will buy them regardless of how good it is, so why should we waste time and effort making sure the story is good?'

Don't get me wrong, I read it and I kind of enjoyed it, but it could have been SO MUCH BETTER!  I'm tempted one day to do some fan fiction on it and re-make it the way I think it should have been done.

Sorry.  Rant over.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book-a-Day 3: One with a blue cover

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

I had a different answer prepared for this day until I finished this book, and then I knew I had to change it.  Dreams of Gods and Monsters is the final instalment of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and this book, and the whole series in fact, is excellent.  It’s a great end to the trilogy, and wraps up all the loose ends in ways that I wasn’t expecting. 

When I prep’d this answer Amazon UK were still selling signed first edition hardbacks…

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book-a-Day 2: Best Bargain

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.

This was chosen as a book club book a while back and was available on Amazon for kindle at a special offer for 20p.  Definitely a bargain!

Unfortunately it's not 20p anymore.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Book-a-Day 1: Favourite Book from Childhood

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively.  

I loved this story.  As a child, and a big old scaredy-cat this was a great book to read, my first real foray into the fantastical, and the supernatural.

I know the cover shown here and possibly my old copy, if I ever find it, notes it as a winner of the Carnegie Medal, I didn't realise that or what it meant until Mrs F of Fennell Books posted a list.

I gave a copy to my niece for Christmas a year or two back, but I'm not sure she's read it yet.