Monthly Archives: January 2008

Unseen – Mari Jungstedt

I have been really getting into crime novels in the past year and was perusing Wimbledon’s Waterstones when I found several copies of this on their ‘Waterstones Recommends’ shelves in the crime section and I thought ‘why not’ it was also double points and that always helps, plus the quotes and the blurb sounded really good. I have just realised I am prime marketing fodder, I take it all in and buy, buy, buy!

Mari Jungstedt is a name not known over here though in her homeland of Sweden (I so hope I have got that right) she is big news and extremely successful. Now her books are being translated and coming over to the British market. Currently we have ‘Unseen’ shortly ‘Unspoken’ will be following and then ‘The Inner Circle’. All feature Inspector Anders Knutas who, this being the first instalment, is introduced in this novel and is a straight forward ambitious detective. All novels also feature reporter Johan Berg who I found a much more complex interesting character and who falls in love with a possible future victim who is married, all this makes the book that much more real.

The setting is Gotland a picturesque island used in the summer as a very popular tourist resort. Jungstedt knows her territory very well as she actually has a summer house there so the pictures she sets are perfect and painted with precision. The body of a mutilated dog is found which leads to the discovery of the body, pretty soon there is a row of murders and Knutas realises that they may just have a serial killer on their hands.

Jungstedt is a good writer and this novel is very believable like a lot of authors she not only gets us into the mind of the killer she also creates victims with a background, I do feel that authors like Kate Atkinson and Susan Hill are at the top of the game for this and Jungstedt isn’t quite there yet. She lays on the gore, which I know some people aren’t fans of (I don’t mind a good bit of gore) but not to extremes. I do really look forward to eventually reading ‘Unspoken’ however it will be from the library not from the bookshop next time.

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Filed under Mari Jungstedt, Review, Transworld Publishing

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers – Xiaolu Guo

I know from reading reviews that people have either loved of loathed this book there don’t seem to be many reviews where people simply aren’t bothered. I am in the love category. Xiaolu Guo wrote this novel after herself first coming to England. She found that her language was inconsistent and that she would make people laugh, sometimes at here rather than against her, and decided that this would make a great story. She was right. From the opening line ‘sorry for my english’ to the final page I was completely hooked.

The story is of Zhuang, or ‘Z’ as she likes to be called, who arrives in London to spend a year learning English and you also get the feeling that she is here to be free from the constraints of her parents and to find more of herself. The book chronicles her times mainly in England but also as she takes a trip around Europe. It also chronicles the man she meets who remains nameless throughout the novel and the affair that they embark on, one which isn’t very healthy, she becomes very dependent on someone who is quite cold.

I loved this book for the lead character of ‘Z’, I also loved how it looked at the linguistics of English and both poked fun at us and at tourists who come in from other parts of the world. I also found I laughed out loud at several different intervals like when Z confuses a vibrator with an electric toothbrush, when she first finds out that her lover is actually a bisexual, whilst also being wholeheartedly disturbed by the incident when she is one her travels in Europe and the reaction from her lover when she comes back.

Z is a great heroine as she isn’t perfect, I always like someone to have a flaw it makes them more real, she needs love in a new strange place that hasn’t turned out to be quite what you would expect and sadly finds the wrong man, she also doesn’t seem interested in friends which I found unusual. Does she find a happy ending? Read the book, it comes highly recommended from me. Xiaolu Guo is a name that I think we should definately be looking out for in the future, I have just been spending a while on Amazon mulling over buying her new Hardback ’20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth’ I dont like hardbacks, but it is very, very tempting.

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Filed under Books of 2008, Review, Vintage Books, Xiaolu Guo

The Savage Garden – Mark Mills

Does a book that’s been recommended to you ever make you change your mind about someone? Polly, who you will have possibly read about and will be sure to read more about in the future, told me that I simply must read this book, she had really enjoyed it and was raving about it. I always respond well to passionate ravings about a book as it is something that I quite often do myself, and anyone who is passionate about a book and tells me I must read it normally gets my vote and read of said novel. Polly’s been right about many a book and indeed has bought me many a book, however having bought The Savage Garden by Mark Mills and having heard so much from Polly about how fabulous it was it had high expectations to meet. Let me also add that Polly is very well read and we generally like similar books. It has also been a Richard & Judy Summer Read, sadly I am someone who currently thinks that Amanda Ross’s choices of books are generally good ones too, another person who’s job I would kill for.

Anyway only thirty pages in I was thinking ‘am I reading the same book?’…I was. Set in post war Tuscany behind a grand villa lies and enchanting and mystical garden. A garden that in fact holds secrets, dark secrets with clues all around that someone needs to decipher. That person turns out to be Adam Strickland, a young scholar who visits the town and falls in love with the garden, its house and its family the Docci’s. The family themselves seem to have their own dark secrets and skeletons, could the garden and the house hold mysteries of murder, love and betrayal. Well I am not going to give that away, all I will say is by page 100 I couldn’t care less but felt obligated to finish the novel as I had promised Polly.

Mills is an author whom, for me personally, over describes everything. He doesn’t just describe the house exterior, he describes every window, every column almost every ivy leaf that grows up the side. Boring. As a reader yes I want hints as to what things look like, what characters sound like etc, I don’t need to be told intricate details that delay the story but also force my brain to depict things to the nth degree, this is an author who seriously wants control of what his reader is taking in and all power to him, it just doesn’t work for me. I have heard some of my favourite authors say ‘once a book is written it’s the readers, they imagine the characters, their voices and actions, its no longer mine though I have the story and characters in my head, that’s the point though you write something people respond to and take into their own brains and hopefully hearts’ well something along those lines anyways.

I have to say I will not be recommending this to anyone. In fact I dont think I will be reading another Mark Mills, I could eat my own words, it would have to take something seriously amazing for me to change my mind after reading this. Has it changed my opinion of Polly? No, as if, not after 22 years of friendship, I may be more wary of her choices from now on after all she recommended London Fields, my most hated book of all time, but she has also recommended me some gems. I’ll make sure I blog her next recommendation.

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Mark Mills, Review, Richard and Judy

Tooth & Nail – Ian Rankin

I was introduced to Ian Rankin last year thanks to my mother and my Gran’s neighbour Bernie, my Gran herself doesn’t like Ian Rankin and the Rebus stories. Before I read his work I decided to read about him and found the fact he based the first book sort of around ‘Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde’ fascinating and decided I had to give him ago, as always I had to do this in the order of the series, so while everyone is now on Exit Music I am trundling along slowly behind. From book one ‘Knots and Crosses’ I was hooked, I love the setting, the writing and I am obviously becoming a big crime novel fan.

This, the third instalment, was originally named ‘Wolfman’ after the murderer in the novel, aptly named as they bite their victim and also as the first body is found in Wolf Street in London’s East End, a brilliant setting for a body finding very Jack the Ripper. This is the major change from the earlier Rebus novels which so far have all been set in Edinburgh, one of my favourite cities, however Rebus was still dealing with the same issues of family, work and women (a new female psychologist in particular) only in the city I live in which I quite enjoyed seeing him in. It adds an edge of unevenness to Rebus as he’s not on his home turf. It also sees him reporting to Scotland Yard and has that added bit of pressure.

This is my favourite of the Rebus novels so far with a much darker feel again from its predecessor and with a few more twists, turns and thrills. If they keep getting better and better then I can’t wait until I get to Exit Music, though I do have quite a few books to get through first, and that’s only the Rankin ones let alone all the others!

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Filed under Ian Rankin, Orion Publishing, Review

Blogger With A One Tracked Mind

It shows how you can have a plan that you are going to read something and then suddenly that plan changes. I had decide that after Agatha Raisin I would go for a good old crime book, after having seen a show on Channel 4 about bloggers who have become authors and in particular women who have chosen to write about their sex lives I decided that I would give Abbi Lee’s a go.

I am not going to review the book as though she has sold an absolute bucket load of them and a negative or ‘not bothered’ review is sure not to affect her sales, I dont have much to say about it. I didnt hate it, I didnt think it was brilliant, I just read it. It does what it says on the tin though sadly doesnt have any depth to it. It is interesting though the level of books that have become blogs and sold in their thousands. Belle Du Jour is probably the best well known one, and is now a TV show with the delightful actress Billie Piper. I wonder what the next big blog craze will be, I am hoping that books will be the ‘new sex blogs’ hahahahaha not that that quite works. I think its great for those who get a deal out of it, and a little envy ha, but if this is the new way we are getting authors like ‘Wife in the North’ etc then all power to them.

This blog was a bit of random waffle. Sorry. A proper review of the next book will come soon, now I just don’t know what to read next, any suggestions?

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Agatha Raisin & The Terrible Tourist – M.C. Beaton

So now I reveal to you one of my guilty pleasure reads… the Agatha Raisin mysteries. I cannot remember how I got into them in the first place, I am sure it was a case of seeing the colourful spines in Waterstones and then seeing one in Cancer Research in Balham which was the second in the series and then decided that as with most books I should read them in order.

Agatha Raisin I believe is the modern updated and comical version of Miss Marple. By comical I don’t mean that it takes the mickey out of Miss Marple or Agatha Christie far from it – I do wonder if the name is in act paying homage to the mistress of mystery and murder? Agatha leaves London after selling her business in book one of the series ‘Agatha Raisin & the Quiche of Death’ to the small idyllic village of Carsely where she is most unpopular and murders start. She is a tough cookie to crack arriving with a rather mountainous chip on her shoulder, and a tongue as sharp as knives. She is fabulous and gives the whole village a bit of a shake up while making some friends and several enemies along the way.

Agatha is now in her sixth instalment which sees her on her travels, for reasons I can’t really go into without spoiling the first five books (and which proves you should read them in order) which will make this an interesting review. Agatha Raisin has ended up abroad far from Carsely and in Cyprus in pursuit of the man she loves and occasionally stalks. Like the mayhem and murder magnet that she is homicide soon happens in this holiday resort and she decides to do some more detective work, making new friends and causing chaos along the way.

I won’t gain credibility for being an Agatha Raisin fan, in fact I am sure some ‘literary’ people will have switched off and barred this blog by now, I care not, everyone is entitled to their guilty pleasure and this is indeed mine. It was another sit down and read in a few hours job, I might try something longer next though I am still in the mood for some more murder.

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Filed under Agatha Raisin, M.C. Beaton, Review, Robinson Publishing

The Man in the Picture – Susan Hill

Susan Hill wrote one of my favourite ‘ghost stories’ and in fact one of my favourite novels The Woman in Black a book that I recommend to anyone and everyone. So after quite a while since her last ghost story Mist in the Mirror now here is The Man in the Picture and I read it in one go, I simply devoured the whole thing. I did wait until it was dark and the curtains were drawn just to get the perfect atmosphere. You can’t read a ghost story in daylight or on the tube, it doesn’t work.

The tale is told on a winters night before the fire (a perfect time and place to read this book if you can) Theo a Cambridge don, is telling his former student Oliver the strange history of the picture that he has on his wall. What may appear to be a beautiful Venetian scene of partying and masks in the street has much deeper secrets and scares in its frame. Poor Oliver is unaware that having been told the tale it will change everything for him and soon the painting will be taking its effect on his own life. This painting is no ordinary painting for it has the power not only to imitate life but also to take it, forever. And the reason it does this? Well without giving anything away its revenge, simple bitter revenge. Revenge for what or whom you will have to read to find out.

Susan Hill is a superb writer who can turn her hand to anything; her crime novels are wonderful, it is however her ghost stories that I love the most. The way she sets the scene so simplistically and builds the tension so easily before you know it your spine is tingling and the hairs on your back and neck are rising. They have that gothic or Victorian feel to them that harks back to the classic era of ghost telling. Sadly I didn’t have a fire as I would have given anything for the sound and warmth of wood crackling while I was turning the pages and getting the chills.

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Filed under Books of 2008, Profile Books, Review, Susan Hill

Cock & Bull – Will Self


I have tried Will Self once before when I tried and failed to read Dorian his reworking of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ – I didn’t finish that either. However I was in Oxfam and looking for something that looked fun and saw this for 49p and simply couldn’t say no.

Will Self is renowned for having a massive intellect or of being accused of being attention grabbing and indeed with this slightly controversial pair of novellas that create the book. The tales ‘cock’ and ‘bull’ both tell tales of people gaining sexual organs of the opposite sex. In ‘Cock’ Carol is miserable, her marriage is horrific and she has finally realised that Dan is not the man for her. Dan has joined Alcoholics Anonymous yet it doesn’t seem to be working. One night when he is out on the lash Carol finds out she has gained something, something that will change her life and her relationship forever.

In ‘Bull’ we meet John Bull, he is a real mans man; he drinks (not to excess) and plays rugby. One day he wakes up to find something new has appeared on the back of his leg. He goes to the doctor and finds his doctor takes more than just a patient-to-doctor relationship, he gains a new admirer. Both of these tales have extremely comic if slightly eye opening consequences and take us into the minds of people who have just had the shocks of their lives.

People will slate this book as being trash and filth, they will be missing out. These tell how daft, crazy, naughty, dirty and enthralling sex can be. Will Self is refreshing in his no holes barred description of the sexuality have, this is funny not filthy. It’s also very clever and asks the question of would women become more male and vice versa and these questions are answered as the stories go on. This is not your run of the mill novel and I absolutely loved it. Maybe I will give Dorian another go one day?

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Great Expectations, Can Readers Expect Too Much?

After reading Son of a Witch and feeling rather let down by the whole novel, I wondered whether I was at fault. I wondered if maybe I had expected too much. Having loved its predecessor so much maybe I had hyped the new novel up far too much in my own head? I don’t think this is the case though, lets take another example of this shall we which we can compare and contrast this with.

Harry Potter. Last year saw the launch of the latest and last Harry Potter novel, and ‘Potter-Mania’ reached a whole new level with the final instalment. People had been guessing for weeks (months and years) would Harry die or survive? I wont spoil the ending for the very few of you who haven’t read it yet. The expectation of the novel was so high a large amount of people who I heard say ‘oh it was such a let down’ or ‘well I had guessed the ending and found J. K. Rowling’s ending below par’. She wouldn’t have been able to win either way. Now Harry Potter is a cult, a series of novels so popular with both adults and children it’s untrue. Was I disappointed by it? Slightly but only because I read the epilogue, if you have read it you might understand why, god this not giving things away is difficult.

Now Gregory Maguire’s novels have a following though not on such a grand scale The Wizard of Oz almost does. So I think I was fair in expecting a lot, I mean if you are going to write a prequel or prequels sequel to a classic tale you have to be bloody good, and Wicked was. However there are factors that a reader should take into consideration after they have read something they feel is poor or below what they expected. These could be…

1. Where you really in the right mood for that book? It’s all very well finishing off a crime novel and saying ‘oh I hated that’ when actually when you started you wanted a light read with some comedy. In that case can I please recommend the Agatha Raisin series by M.C Beeton? This collection hits both nails of crime and comedy firmly on the head every time, in my opinion.

2. Did you give enough of your concentration to the novel? I have been doing all the rehearsals for a Pantomime (don’t ask) so I admit I have been shattered whilst reading this and occasionally felt my concentration waver. This is a 50/50 relationship this writing and reading malarkey. A writer spends hours writing the thing, you should try and spend as much time and concentration on a novel as you can.

3. Did you take too long to read it? Now this sounds a silly question but think about it. If you love a book it’s very difficult to put down. If your not enjoying one you read it slower therefore prolonging what could be a kind of good book into a kind of boring one. This is all dependent on your reading habits, be they 30 minutes before bed when your kids/partner/cat gives you some piece, that 50 minute train/tube/bus journey, or be in a ten minute on the loo number.

4. Peer Pressure/Others Reviews? Now this isn’t applicable to me in this instance but should be mentioned. My Gran can be a nightmare she can rave about a book so much I will read it and find it soulless. She can also dislike and berate a novel I am going to read and I love it. (I am sure this will come up in more detail in another blog one day.) Did you read a glowing or poor review in your favourite store, magazine or paper that’s slipped into your subconscious?

These are all things to be wary of. Yes we should expect a lot from our literature, be it £7.99 in Waterstones or 99p in Oxfam you are spending your spare money but most importantly your spare time on these works and you should be getting something out of it. You need to remember, as the saying goes, sometimes ‘you get out of it what you give it’ at least I think that’s an old saying and not something I have just made up? You get the drift.

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Gregory Maguire, M.C. Beaton

Son Of A Witch – Gregory Maguire

I never really believed in the phrase over egging the pudding, I now feel that I can apply this to Son of a Witch the latest Gregory Maguire novel. One of my favourite books is ‘Wicked’ now also a successful award winning musical. What I loved about Wicked was its originality. It added such a clever twist to a very well known tale of Elphaba the wicked witch of the west before Dorothy lands in Oz and questions how wicked she really was.

Wicked was rare in the fact that, for someone who doesn’t generally like peoples sequels or prequels to novels, I got totally re-emerged into the wonderful world of Oz that I loved so much from The Wizard of Oz. So when this novel came out on import (even though it’s coming out in paperback in the UK very soon) I had to grab a copy, the US covers are so much better anyway.

So would I love Oz as much as I did the last time? Not really. This is the tale of Liir who could or could not be the son of Elphaba. It tells of how he is found in the desert and the journey that leads him there which includes a few faces from the past. I like Maguire’s writing style. Wicked had so much imagination and involved some wonderful story telling, everything I loved in Wicked seemed completely lacking in this novel. I wasn’t interested in the characters, sub plots or references to the tales of Oz that we know and love. I felt cheated. I do not claim to think I could have written this novel better, I am just saying that the magic of Oz seems to have worn off.

I have also read ‘Mirror, Mirror’ a retold version of Snow White and have to admit I find that a lacklustre retelling of the original fairytale, so maybe Wicked just ticked all my boxes. It has mystery, witches, talking animals and a real gothic and epic feel to it, sadly its ‘son’ falls flat on its face whilst learning to crawl. A disappointment, maybe I had too high expectations. Is this something a reader can be guilty of? That sounds like the next blog to me…

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Filed under Gregory Maguire, Headline Review, Review

The Savidge Top Ten Best Books of 2007

This is a really hard decision after such a brilliant year of reading, though am gutted didn’t managed 100 books, maybe this year, we shall see. I have to say part of me wanted to do a top twenty or a top 13 like the ‘Man Booker Dozen’ because I simply had so many that I would heartily recommend to you all. But enough of me waffling on, here is my list of what I thought was superb reading in 2007.

10. The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly
This was possibly one of the most surprising books of the year for me which I read after a recommendation from on of the book group members. She had read it and thought that it would be right up my street and she was indeed right. This is a tale of David a twelve year old boy who has just lost his mother. Having moved to a new house he buries himself in the world of books to beat out the grief in his head. However these stories start to seep into the real world and bad things start to happen and The Crooked Man comes to claim David. This book was dark enthralling and added a new exciting twist to fairytales that brought out your childhood fears.

9. Case Histories – Kate Atkinson
I fell in love with Kate’s writing, not with ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ as I didn’t really take to that and never finished it, with ‘Human Croquet’ which had a brilliant dark otherness about it. Having re-found my love for crime fiction in the last twelve months I was overjoyed to discover she has written a combination of crime and literary fiction and ‘Case Histories’ was simply superb. Following Jackson Brodie, a brilliant complex main character, ex soldier and police man as he is hired as a private detective Atkinson takes a look at how small the world is and how coincidences can change everything and interlink. Brilliant plotting, superb characters.

8. Winter in Madrid – C.J.Sansom
Having also read his Historical Literary Crime (now there is a new genre) novel ‘Dissolution’ this year I have really rather enjoyed my two experiences of Sansom. However this novel set in 1940 after the Spanish Civil War in the ruins of Madrid was just stunning. Harry Brett is sent by the government to spy and find out as much as he can about old school chum Sandy Forsyth who has become somewhat of a shady character in Madrid. Harry becomes involved in a dangerous game of plots, skeletons in closets and emotional warfare. I thought this was absolutely brilliant and let out a huge ‘gasp’ at the ending I didn’t see coming. I also bought a few copies for people for Christmas.

7. Restless – William Boyd
This book was another complete surprise for me and a fresh take on the war from a female point especially from the point of a spy. In 1939 Eva Delectorskaya, twenty eight, is a Russian living in Paris when she is recruited by the British Secret Service and put under the tutoring of Lucas Romer a man of mystery. The book starts as in the present day Eva’s past comes back to haunt her as a grandmother happily settled. I found this book both thrilling and unique, you don’t think of grandma spies really do you. I found it fast paced and yet it really got into the characters and their motives. I bought this for a lot of people over the year.


6. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell This was a recommendation from my Gran who herself is a great reader and it takes a lot to impress her after 60 odd years of reading and three book clubs, she devoured this in two sittings. I devoured it in one. When Iris Lockheart gets a phone call telling her she has a long lost Aunt she has never heard of and who is due for release from an asylum and could she come and get her, her independent lifestyle gets embroiled in secrets from the families past. I found this unsuspecting thriller completely sucked me in and wasn’t expecting the tale of Esme’s journey to the Asylum to be so gripping whilst also so emotional. This was unputdownable if that’s a word.

5. The Observations – Jane Harris
This was one of those books that you should judge by the cover. I was in a little independent book shop in Cromford when I saw this as one of their recommended titles and it looked so gothic, dark, mysterious and full of secrets, I thought ‘why not?’ This is brilliant novel and without a doubt Bessy Buckley is my favourite character of the year, and her narration is wonderful (I didn’t find her Scottish and Victorian slang annoying at all) I though it was a unique voice. The story tells of Bessy taking a job for Arabella in her grand house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Bessy is more than happy at first as she is escaping her past in Glasgow, however, when asked to keep a journal of her most intimate thoughts along side her employer’s odd behaviour she starts to worry. Worries that build up further when she finds her employer had a slight obsession for her predecessor Nora who died mysteriously. This book is just brilliant, gripping, mysterious it has all the makings of a future classic and with a heroine like Bessy it deserves to be.

4. Half Of A Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
It was difficult to only put this at number four because it was so brilliant but the competition was really, really tough this year with so many good books. This is possibly one of the most heart wrenching novels I have ever read set in the lead up, and start, of Nigeria’s Biafra War. The book has three unique outlooks from that of a servant boy Ugwu, his employer’s wife Olanna, and Richard a journalist who is Olanna’s twin sister’s lover from England. I found this book incredibly moving and upsetting the vividness of the war engrained so much on the page that you felt you were there for the shock and awe of it all. Not an easy read by any standard but a book I think should be in everyone’s collection.

3. Atonement – Ian McEwan
I have officially started to become a huge fan of McEwan and plan to read a lot more of his books this year. Of course with the big movie out I would be surprised if there is anyone now who hasn’t read the book or who doesn’t know the story. A story based all around confusion, childhood interpretations and mistakes, after Briony sees her sister Cecilia jump in a fountain whilst their childhood friend watches. From then on more mistakes are made and people’s lives are changed forever. I wasn’t expecting the war to loom in the book but it was dealt with well and added an extra something to the book. This is one of McEwan’s longest and possibly one of his best.

2. The Book Thief – Marcus Zusack
I remember when I was recommended this by the same lady who recommended ‘Restless’ I thought “not another book about the War”. I have to say the originality with which Zusack writes this novel made it without question one of the best books of the year. The narrator of the novel is Death during his particularly busy phase in 1939 Germany and a book thief that he encounters, nine year old Liesle who lives with her adoptive family in bomb torn Himmel Street. I didn’t think a book written by Death sounded like it would be much fun, and there isn’t fun in war, however this book is full of real hope for humans written in beautiful prose where every word has been thought through. It was easy to see why this was the biggest selling debut adult novel in 2007.

1. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’… I didn’t expect to find my new favourite read of all time (so far) this year, especially after ‘The Woman in White’ is such a tough act to follow, but with Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ from the first few pages it was a complete love affair. I love all things gothic and this book had it all. Following the unnamed second Mrs De Winter after she marries Maxim this books takes us through mystery, a beguiling ex-wife an evil housekeeper (Mrs Danvers was my favourite character in the whole book), a rambling estate and a possible murder. This book is a great gothic mystery but is also a great insight into people and how they work. If I hadn’t made the decision to put only one book per author in my top ten then I would have had to have ‘Jamaica Inn’ on the list which is almost as good. I am only worried now that having read what’s meant to be the best Du Maurier first I might be let down from now on, somehow though I doubt it.

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Books of 2007, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Daphne Du Maurier, Ian McEwan, Jane Harris, John Connolly, Kate Atkinson, Maggie O'Farrell, Marcus Zusack, William Boyd

Who & What: The ‘To Read’ Debate

Should you have a definitive list of what you must read? Should you have a pile next to your bed that new books go under and not on top of? Should you read as you buy? It’s up to the individual, myself personally (remember I never said I will say you should or shouldn’t do something) I chop and change I have a very flexible to read selection, in space where it can grow or deplete or be switched around at will.

I did however say in my last blog that I have not set myself any goals other than to read more of the classics. There are some authors I would like to have a crack at I never have before. For example; I like to call myself a book lover but am ashamed to admit that I have still never read a Dickens novel, I know that’s shameful isn’t it. So I decided that I would write a list of the genre’s and authors who I would like to read. So Dickens will be on there, how could I not now after my shameful admittance?

Before I give you my list of literature for 2008 I’d just like to say I am not going to make this law as I believe what your ‘to read’ list will be ever changing. Someone might recommend something, or I might see an article on a certain author and so being higher in my consciousness I will put them higher on the pile. There is also always the major fact, what you want to read changes. After reading say War & Peace you might not want to start reading another 900 pager. Our tastes change and as they do so do our ‘to read’ piles. So my rough guide for reading 2008…

– Read more short stories, I have never really been a fan of these and don’t know why

– Read Dickens (see above)

– I always slate Jodi Picoult and I have never read her and so maybe I will give her a whirl. I am not a book snob by the way, I just for some reason probably an unreasonable one taken offence to them

– Tess Gerritsen, bit of gore

– Revisit some old favourites, I would like to re-read The Woman in White, then again I could actually just read The Moonstone which would be a new read

– The Odyssey

– Give second chances both to novels I started and just lost interest (We Need To Talk About Kevin) and authors who I have read one novel of and then written off such as Martin Amis (London Fields was a bloody awful book).

– Hardy and Trollope (not Joanna) another two classic writers I have never tried

– James Bond

– Books I think are hard, maybe not Ulysses yet, but maybe a Gabriel Garcia Marquez

– Non fiction, something else I avoid

– Biographies, same again

Now I feel somewhat depressed, maybe I am not the reader I thought I was? Oh dear.

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A Blog on Books?

Some people would question why someone of twenty five would want to keep a blog on books. I know some people do it to be extremely literary and to give you the guides of what you should and shouldn’t read. I don’t want to do that, if I love a book I will rave about it and if I loathe a book I will let you know. I won’t say you ‘must’ or ‘must not’ read something as we all have different tastes. I also promise to never give the ending of a book away I cannot bare people who do that.

I am also not going to give people any tips on how or when to read. Some people can read 2 or 3 books at once this is something that I simply cannot do. I won’t ever say you must never give up on a book, something I strongly believed in for a while, more on that in another blog in the future. I am simply going to blog the books I read, say what I thought and make blogs on anything else I see in everyday travels, papers, TV etc. Basically I will blog anything about books, from books themselves to book thoughts and the like. I love books and I want this to be a blog for book lovers and something of a reader’s diary.

So maybe I should give an insight into myself. How have I become a bookworm? Well, I blame it on my Gran and my mother. They both have a rather large (some may say mini library) in each of their homes. My mother was also an English teacher (she is now a primary school teacher) and I guess somewhere along the way it rubbed off and I was hooked. What book hooked me? I’m not sure, I read a lot of Enid Blyton when I was a child as well as Jill Murphy, I think two particular books that made me read in my childhood were ‘The Hounds of The Morrigan’ by Pat O’Shea and ‘The Whitby Witches’ by Robin Jarvis. Since then I have always pretty much had a book on the go, I think between 1998 and 2000 I had a severe reading drought. Now some might say I have had a major reading flood. I read anywhere and everywhere, yes occasionally its been known to happen at the dinner table, there always has to be a book in my bag a major rule I live by.

The one person who knows of my reading habits (and who has to put up with my 10 flat pack boxes of books slightly excessive I know) is my partner Mr B. He doesn’t quite get it, he certainly doesn’t mind, but he would never read as much as I do. I used to think it was because he was Brazilian and it being a second language books are harder to read, no it’s just him. He puts up with it, unless I am reading at the dinner table as above or am expecting him to share in the carrying of a massive tome if we are on a day out.

So do I have a goal or major reason for the blog? No. I don’t have a goal that I must read a book a week, I could read only one this year, not that that would make for an interesting blog. Last year was one of highs and lows for my reading. I gave up reading my first book ever, I read some books that I never thought I would (thank you book group) and am diversifying the types of books I read. So what goals have I set? I have only set one goal in my mind so far which is to try and read more classics I haven’t really touched any in the last year and I used to read a lot of them.

So here’s to a read-a-thon of a year! I hope you will join me on my journey through the world of books.

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Filed under Book Thoughts