Tag Archives: Rick Riordan

Other People’s Bookshelves #30 (Part Two): Kate Neilan

Hello and welcome, to the latest in the series of Other People’s Bookshelves which sees the series of posts turning 30! So to mark this special occasion we are heading to the delights of Essex for a big old party (grab your streamers, some cupcakes, a glass of fizzy and a paper hat) as we are hosted by one of my favourite bookish couples in the whole wide world. Today we join Rob and Kate from Adventures with Words, who I have the pleasure of joining along with Gavin every month to make Hear… Read This. Less about me, and more about them as I hand over to Kate (breaking the tradition of ladies first as I let Rob share his shelves earlier as they haven’t merged shelves yet, I am not judging their relationship on this basis though… much!) to introduce her lovely self and her shelves and all other bookish shenanigans…

I’m Kate – you might know me as @magic_kitten – and I’ve always been a huge reader ever since I can remember, and even before that if you believe my parents.  I work full time as Head of Citizenship and PSHE at a secondary school in Essex, although I originally trained as an English teacher at Cambridge, after doing my English Lit degree at Durham.  While I was there, I took the (very popular) Children’s Fiction module, which reignited my love for Young Adult books, to the extent that I wrote my dissertation on His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I’m now one half of Adventures With Words, alongside Rob Chilver. He began the blog to discuss books, films, games and stories in general and in 2012 we started recording a weekly podcast too. Recently, I’ve branched out with my own ‘Young Adult Edition’. Do go to www.adventureswithwords.com and have a look.

IMG_4159

Do you keep all the books you read on your shelves or only your favourites, does a book have to be REALLY good to end up on your shelves or is there a system like one in one out, etc?

I’m a dreadful hoarder and, until recently, I kept every book that I bought, even if I’d read it and not really thought much of it.  My book collection fills three ‘Billy’ bookcases and more; I’ve got two boxes of books that have yet to be unpacked since Rob and I moved in together over a year ago. Lately, though, I’ve had to be more ruthless.  We now have a ‘To go’ pile of books where books I know I’m not going to read again go, although, as yet, they’ve not actually gone anywhere yet! If I’m being honest, these aren’t even all my books. I still have a shelf in my old bedroom at my parents’ house full of all my Point Horrors and teenage reads. I’m thinking about retrieving them but where would they go?!

Do you organise your shelves in a certain way? For example do you have them in alphabetical order of author, or colour coded? Do you have different bookshelves for different books (for example, I have all my read books on one shelf, crime on another and my TBR on even more shelves) or systems of separating them/spreading them out? Do you cull your bookshelves ever?

Before my most recent house move (I worked out recently I’ve moved more than ten times, taking into account university, teacher training and various flats and houses since moving out), I had my bookcases very carefully organised. I had three big red ‘Billy’ bookcases, one ‘half’ bookcase with three deep shelves, and one totally non-matching white one. That one housed my (excessive) CD and DVD collection, then my half-bookcase was for YA, and one large bookcase housed my university books (a mixture of textbooks, anthologies, Complete Works of Shakespeare/Chaucer etc and various novels, plays and poetry). The other two bookcases were organised roughly by genre, then by author; you could glance at the shelves and easily see the Tolkien, Iain (M) Banks, Isabel Allende and so on.

All this lovely system was completely destroyed when we last moved house; putting two sets of things into one house just doesn’t fit, so I gave up my white bookcase…and so it began! As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got two boxes of books that haven’t even seen the light of day yet – there wasn’t any urgency as they’re mostly university texts – but I’m sure I’ll want them one day… Eventually, during as summer holiday, I’ll take all these lovely stories off the shelves and rearrange them. I promise. We do have a “Blog TBR” bookcase (because piling them on the floor was becoming a little impractical) and some of these will graduate onto my own bookshelves after being read, reviewed and enjoyed.

IMG_4158

What was the first book you ever bought with your own money and does it reside on your shelves now?

Short answer? No, I’m really not sure, although I did spend quite a lot of my summer holiday aged 12 buying Point Horror books for a couple of pounds each from the second hand book stall in Norwich covered market… Still got them!

Are there any guilty pleasures on your bookshelves you would be embarrassed people might see, or like me do you have a hidden shelf for those somewhere else in the house?

I have very varied taste in books – I read literary fiction, lots of genre fiction and Young Adult – and I’m not really embarrassed about any of my choices; as far as I’m concerned, it’s fine to read something that’s a bit cheesy or clichéd as long as you enjoy it. I do own the entire Twilight series (and have read them all) and I’ve got The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. No, they’re not literary masterpieces, but yes, they were enjoyable in their own ways.

Which book on the shelves is your most prized, mine would be a collection of Conan Doyle stories my Great Uncle Derrick memorised and retold me on long walks and then given to me when I was older? Which books would you try and save if (heaven forbid) there was a fire?

I have a lovely set of Tolkein’s fiction with matt black covers and a small picture on the front of each one, which I really love, and a fantastic set of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy in hardback, all first editions. These were from my parents and they’re very precious to me. I also have a very well-loved secondhand copy of Feersum Endjinn by Iain M Banks, my favourite of his science fiction novels, which was sent to me by the wonderful Gav of No Cloaks Allowed, The Readers and Hear Read This. He found it while browsing, opened up the cover, and saw that it was signed. After buying it, he tweeted about it and I jokingly tweeted back saying it would make my day (life) if I’d found it, and he sent it to me! What a lovely guy. Finally, I have one of only eight comb-bound preview copies of the final Artemis Fowl book, Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian. Rob knew I’m a huge fan of the series and managed to get hold of it, without letting on; as you can imagine, I was absolutely thrilled.

IMG_4161

What is the first ‘grown up’, and I don’t mean in a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ way, that you remember on your parent’s shelves or at the library, you really wanted to read? Did you ever get around to it and are they on your shelves now?

A bit like me, my parents have a house full of books, so I always remember them being there. One of the first “proper” books I read was Jane Eyre, aged 11, but I swiftly graduated to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and then The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is absolutely hilarious when you’re supposed to be asleep but in fact you’re reading about sweary robots under your duvet using a torch…

If you love a book but have borrowed the copy do you find you have to then buy the book and have it on your bookshelves or do you just buy every book you want to read?

Neither a borrower or a lender be! Well, I’m not, anyway. I have a bit of a ‘thing’ about pre-read books; library books always have that slightly funny smell to them, other people crack the spine or turn over the corner of pages, a habit I managed to kick. I’m a huge recommender to others, especially my mum, but she buys her own copy rather than borrow mine because she doesn’t want to give it back in less than pristine condition! I’m very aware that this is all a bit weird; libraries are brilliant, they’re just not how I read. Plus, the last time I lent a book (a first edition hardback of the first in Isabel Allende’s YA trilogy) I didn’t get it back… #fuming

IMG_4156

What was the last book that you added to your bookshelves?

Funny you ask that, Simon – you may recognise the titles I’m about to mention.  Only earlier today, Rob came home from work with a lovely bookish goody bag for me. My newest acquisitions are Magda by Meike Ziervogel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough and The Gigantic Beard The Was Evil by Stephen Collins. I’ve also got a fantastic little Reading Journal. I find, when I’m reading, that I’d like to jot down ideas but I don’t fancy ‘texting’ them into my phone, so I’m looking forward to using this from now on. Hopefully, it should improve my reviews, too!

Are there any books that you wish you had on your bookshelves that you don’t currently?

To be honest, I think I’m extremely lucky when it comes to books; there are very few that I don’t have but do wish for. I’d love a hardback copy of Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales for Young and Old and I’m awaiting the arrival of All the Birds Singing by Evie Wyld, but, other than that, it’s books that haven’t been published yet. I know they’re coming, because they’re part of series I’m reading: the final Heroes of Olympus book by Rick Riordan, and the next book in Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series, not forgetting the conclusion of Tom Pollock’s Skyscraper Throne trilogy and James Dawson’s new book, Say Her Name.

What do you think someone perusing your shelves would think of your reading taste, or what would you like them to think?

I’m sure they’d think I’ve got very eclectic tastes – there’s a little bit of everything – but hopefully I’ve picked some great books from every genre, and hopefully they’d see things they’d love to try themselves.

IMG_4152

********************************************************

A huge thanks to Kate for taking part in Other People’s Bookshelves, though she really had no choice! If you haven’t go and visit Rob’s shelves, imagine all those books in one house, here! Don’t forgot if you would like to participate (and I would love you to – hint, hint, hint) in the series then drop me an email to savidgereads@gmail.com with the subject Other People’s Bookshelves, thanks in advance. In the meantime… what do you think of Kate’s responses and/or any of the books and authors that she mentions?

5 Comments

Filed under Other People's Bookshelves

The Bookboy Reads #4

Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to my next post. The books I am going to talk about today include, Mortal Engines, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck.

‘Mortal Engines’ by Philip Reeve is the most spectacular steam punk scented book I have ever read, the noise and clutter of Industrialised London almost flows from every page. It tells the tale of humble and meek 3rd Apprentice historian Tom Natsworthy, who is completely in awe of his guild’s head, the gleaming and magnificent Thaddeus Valentine.

One night Tom is on duty in the lowest tiers of London, when he meets Thaddeus valentine in the office of historian on duty. Tom is stunned and delighted to have finally met his hero, and Valentine seems as delightful as the tales of him depict. Suddenly, a girl appears wearing a scarf around her face, as if to hide a scar, and tries to attack Valentine, intending to kill him. Tom intervenes, and saves Valentine’s life. Valentine then proceeds to push Tom into a hole with the girl, Hester Shaw, and they find themselves in the wastelands, alone and friendless. It is then that Tom releases what a savage beast Valentine really is, and he plots revenge with Hester. Valentine must pay for what he’s done! If you like the steam punk Genre/ futuristic books, then this is the series for you. Not suitable for readers under 10, due to language, plot development, and explicit scenes! It is very gripping, and i read all 4 of the series in 4 days!

‘Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief’ by Rick Riordan is a marvellous take on the traditional Greek myths, but with elements of the modern era. The hero is Percy Jackson, who is a regular schoolboy, until one afternoon when something special happens. He is on a school trip, when his maths teacher Mrs Dodds, asks to speak to him alone. To his utter astonishment and horror, Percy finds out she is actually a Fury, one of Hades’ deputies. Percy doesn’t know what to do, until Mr Brunner, his Latin teacher, throws a ballpoint pen to him. Percy uncaps it, and finds a celestial bronze sword, with which he vaporizes Mrs Dodds.

Afterwards nobody remembers a Mrs. Dodds, not even Percy’s best friend Grover.  After a series of events, including him being attacked by a Minotaur Percy arrives a t a, mysterious mythological camp, minus his mum. Percy finds out his Dad is Poseidon, that Grover is half goat, Mr Brunner is a centaur called Chiron, and that he has a quest to fulfil, and only a week to do it. With the help of Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena, and Grover, he must return the Mater bolt of Zeus or war will break out on Olympus! This book was excellent, and I found it very informative, combining legend with reality. A perfect match for this series is Pegasus and the Flame by Kate O’ Hearn! Probably suitable for ages 9 and plus, due to language and the plot developments.

‘The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck’ by Jamie Rix was kindly sent to me by Orion publishers last July, and I am finally reviewing it. I apologise for the delay!This is a fantastically funny book, and is an all time great read. The book involves a young boy, Alfie Pluck, who is kept as a household drudge by his plump, cruel and beauty (though they posses none themselves) obsessed Aunts. Alfie has to work for his food, as Hecate and Mohana spend it all on Beauty and cosmetic products! Alfie is fed up, so when a person called Dr. Shard invents a lucky hen, Alfie is determined to posses it. But others are as well, the vote crazy Prime Minister Marjorie Lentless, called the world’s worst Prime Minister ever in power. Alfie attempts to steal the hen and devour it, and so begins a ring of people obsessed with getting the egg from the boy who just wanted freedom. 

This book is hilariously funny, and allows you to be drawn into the very depths of the story, always contemplating what might happen next. There are also many unexpected twists and turns, which are also very good. There are really no books to compare it to, as it is really that unique and good!

Thank you for reading and until next time, which I hope Simon will allow to be soon, BookBoy Out!

6 Comments

Filed under Book Thoughts, Bookboy Reads