Monthly Archives: October 2010

Happy Halloween… Any Spooky Suggestions?

I have only just discovered the code to my mother’s Wi-Fi and so haven’t been able to do much in the way of blogging or catching up which has been a mixture of a horror and a delightful rest. I had hoped to have a spooky review for you today but I have as yet to pick up a book which can hold my interest during this bout of recovery. Tricky times and no treats as yet!!

Now on the subject of tricks or treats, monsters, goblins, ghosts and ghouls, can any of you suggest any spooky stories for adults and for children as my siblings have been asking too and I have been a bit rubbish in recommendations for them. I am stuck on which books used to really spook me when I was a kid! So could I have suggestions for both please?

Happy Halloween everyone!!!

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Recuperation Retreat

By the time this post goes up I will be up north at my Mums getting some well needed relaxation and recuperation after my ‘investigation’ at the hospital. Everything went well by all reports which is a good sign and is half the battle won it would appear. Now I guess it is simply a waiting game for results so we know what the heck is going on but for now I can just have some time out for a few days in the middle of nowhere (seriously where my Mum lives is like a little retreat from the world, they have a pub and that’s about it).

I have brought some guilty pleasure reads along with me and will quite probably be curling up with ‘The Girl Who Reads Too Much’ on the sofa and just taking some time out. Blissful, just what the doctor ordered. Oh and see I promised I would share a picture of me in my lovely hospital gown, you lucky, lucky things.

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Alls Not Quite Well

Hello one and all, I wanted to pop a little note up on Savidge Reads as there may be some silence for a little while. As I have mentioned I have been feeling rather unwell on and off of late and after a several visits to mystified doctors and walk in clinics and finally a mad dash to A&E last weekend it seems now I have to have a procedure or two before I can get back to my good old self.

I’m not going to go into details or moan because its not very me anyway and at the moment no one is quite sure what’s going on. I am however going to be heading up north to my Mum’s for some respite after a visit to the hospital later this week for an ‘investigation’. I will try and pop by with a picture or two of me in my hospital gown, bet you’d all love to see that, hee hee.

Hopefully both me and Savidge Reads will be up and running good as new again in due course.

Now then lets be a bit more cheerful and have a bookish related request!!!! What can you recommend as hospital and respite reads? I was trying to get through China Mieville’s ‘The City & The City’ which I was enjoying but proved a bit too concentration orientated for my abilities at present. Would love your recommendations. I want some books which are fun (though not necessarily comic), maybe a little upbeat (though can still be literary), have delightful characters and will provide great escape, your mission is set…

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Exchange – Paul Magrs

I have to say I really ummed and ahhed for a while as to whether I should review this book. As some of you will know Paul Magrs is the Chair of The Green Carnation Prize (the shortlist will be announced in a week, which has come round very quickly) which I am one of the judges and co-founding members of. So I was worried that if I loved it, and I did like it lots, that people might think I was being biased through knowing the author. I don’t want people thinking that I would be biased towards an author on any account so I just wanted to clear that up before we go forward. So lets talk about this book, which if you are a lover books – and lets face it if you have popped by here then you must be – will be right up your street.

When I picked up ‘Exchange’ in a book shop a few years ago I will be honest and admit that I hadn’t heard of Paul Magrs before and had never read his ‘Brenda and Effie’ series, which I now love, I initially really liked the cover and then when I read the blurb I knew I had to pick it up from the line “united by their voracious appetite for novels, Simon and his grandmother stumble across the Great Big Book Exchange – a bookshop with a difference.” I was sold not only because it was a book about books and bookshops but also because Simon and his voracious reading Granny sounded a little bit familiar…

We meet Simon as he walks the streets with an old ladies shopping trolley, the initial protagonist of ‘Exchange’, following the death of his parents. He’s a bit of an outsider as well as an orphan. I will admit as soon as I read that I almost inwardly groaned. I have an issue with novels that start with orphans as they have become a cliché today and simply a good way to get rid of the parents so the kids can go and have some marvellous adventures. ‘Exchange’ is different because it actually looks at the emotional turmoil that bereavement can leave behind not only in the deceased’s 16 year old son but in their parents too as we discover when Simon moves in with his grandparents (Winnie and Ray).

It’s the love of books between him and his Gran which both furthers their bond and helps them move forward and escape the real world of grief after such an event especially when they accidentally discover ‘The Great Big Book Exchange’ and its owner Terence and assistant Kelly, who starts a touching relationship with Simon. Its this moment that becomes a catalyst in their lives and also turns the tale to Winnie and her childhood with the now world famous Ada Jones giving insight into what makes a writer and what makes a reader. So as you can see there is a lot going on and I haven’t even covered the burning of books either by Granddad Ray who after years of being married to a reader flips. I was weirdly expecting something magical to happen, I don’t know why this was, but instead you just have a charming story with no bells and whistles, it’s just a lovely tale.

I won’t give anything more away, I think it will suffice to say that it’s an entertaining and heart felt read which will appeal to anyone who loves books, books about books and the people who love books. I did have one tiny sticking point with the book exchange itself as I wasn’t sure about how it worked as you signed up, paid some money borrowed some books and then got some money back when you brought them back. I just thought with libraries and charity shops why would you exchange and what if you wanted to keep one as Winnie does? I have heard that there are such places though. I actually think this book will appeal to adults and teenage readers alike. 8/10

I was quite freaked out about book loving Simon and his book loving Gran and their adventures to book shops and tearooms being so like me at 16… and even now at 28! I wondered if you had ever read a book and thought ‘ooh that’s so like my life’ and if so what was it? Have any of you found a book exchange and how did it work? Who else has read this? Which other fictional books, I have some non fiction but you can recommend those too, embrace the world of books and reading that I might have missed out on?

I bought this book myself a few years ago.

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Filed under Books About Books, Paul Magrs, Review, Simon & Schuster

Our Man in Havana – Graham Greene

Graham Greene is an author that I have meant to read much, much more of (there are loads of authors like that aren’t there, well there are for me) ever since I read ‘The End of the Affair’ back before I blogged in 2007 and was really, really bowled over by it. I fancied something funny and for some reason when I have heard about ‘Our Man in Havana’ I have always heard it’s a comedy. Now I wouldn’t personally have called it that myself, though I would say it’s an entertaining spy caper and one that was something very different for me to read which made a nice change.

I found it very interesting reading, on my rather old battered copy of this book, that Graham Greene himself rated ‘Our Man in Havana’ as not a novel but as an entertainment. Having now read it I can see what he means I think. A novel is a novel but this isn’t the kind of book that you might expect from Graham Green because its not exactly literary even thought it’s actually very well written. In fact you would almost think that ‘Our Man in Havana’ was a pastiche of a James Bond novel whilst also being a comedy of errors in some ways. Hmmm, hard one to describe, maybe a little sharing of the story will help.

‘Our Man in Havana’ is of course set in Cuba under the regime of Batista and our protagonist Wormold, who’s wife has left him alone with his daughter who is rather high maintenance in more ways than one, is selling vacuum cleaners for a living with the odd drink or five with his friend Dr Hasselbacher. This all changes however when he meets Hawthorne, a man from British Intelligence who is looking for a new agent and who decides that Wormold is the perfect man for the job. However Wormold isn’t the perfect man or agent for the job, though he thinks the money is brilliant and to keep it coming starts making up agents, their storylines and tales of espionage in the depths of Cuba. Things start to get a little more complicated for Wormold, and all the more entertaining for the reader, as the things he makes up start to actually happen.

I did enjoy this book as a read, it didn’t blow me away liked I hoped it would. I liked the idea of your average man becoming a hopeless spy, yet really all we had was Wormold telling lies and creating mild deceptions for his own gains which kind of put me off him. I know that shouldn’t matter but it did a bit. In fact it was really his daughter Milly and British Intelligence secretary Beatrice that sort of saved the book in many ways, apart from a very funny moment involving vacuum parts which tickled me. I don’t know who told me it was a comedy because though in parts it’s farcical it didn’t ever really make me laugh out loud, well actually maybe on occasion in the scenes with Wormold’s daughter Milly in them.

I did find it interesting learning afterwards that Greene had actually been part of MI6 in the 1940’s and also that he seemed to pre-empt the Cuban Missile crisis in some ways, well more the trouble in Cuba than anything specific though. I was definitely entertained with ‘Our Man in Havana’ yet I don’t think I was ever well and truly sold on it, I think I wanted and expected more maybe, the fault could therefore be mine. I’m still glad I read it though. 6.5/10

I think it being my second novel of Greene’s that I read honestly didn’t help this book, especially after the first was the impeccable ‘The End of the Affair’. I think maybe this should be the first of your Greene reads or maybe one when you have read a few more of his others. I could be alone in this though as I know a lot of people think this is an utterly brilliant book. I think its good, I just wonder if I should have read it now, maybe it was all about the timing and its place in my reading relationship with Greene, maybe its one to go back to? I am not sure what I will read of Greene’s next. I will have to see what people recommend.

I bought myself this lovely old 3’6 orange Penguin edition from a charity shop a few years ago, before the 2010 book buying ban, for 50p I think.

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Filed under Graham Greene, Penguin Books, Penguin Classics, Review

That Lovely ‘What To Read Next’ Feeling…

Having finished my latest read last night before I went to sleep I awoke this morning and stretched with that lovely feeling of ‘ooh I can browse my bookshelves at whim and read whatever I want to next’. Sometimes that can be a daunting prospect when you have a rather massive Mount TBR however this morning it feels much more like I have a world of endless characters, places, situations and stories ahead of me and that is the perfect feeling on a chilly, yet sunny October morning.

In fact as yet I have still not decided what I want to read next (and people have been very helpful in adding to the TBR of late which you may see in a separate post today or later in the week) thought there are about five major contenders at the moment.

   

  • Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  • Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Still Missing – Beth Gutcheon
  • The City & The City – China Miéville

I don’t want to rush to choose what my next book will be yet (so it might not be any of the ones I am mulling over) or even rush to start another, though I am not in a reading funk; I just want to enjoy this feeling for a little longer instead. Sometimes I really think this is one of the loveliest feelings in the world, don’t you?

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Book Reviews vs. Posts About Bookish Bits & Bobs

I was having a nice coffee with a lovely friend today who really doesn’t get the whole book blogging thing and has often rather bemused and amused by the fact that one of her closest friends is so very into it. Chatting with her has given me enough food for thought for a blog post which I am going to let sit with me and conjure up next week. However in the mean time there was one thing she said, which I will surmise as best as my memory will allow, which is something I have occasionally pondered (not with other blogs – just my own) which in its full glory sounded something like this…

“The thing is shouldn’t a book blog just be your thoughts or reviews on a certain book. I mean I looked at yours once and you were explaining what books had been sent to you, what books you weren’t sure if you should read, which book shop you’d spent ages perusing and also what you’d been up to of late which had no bookish value at all. I mean apart from reading about someone’s thoughts on books is the other stuff actually relevant or are you over sharing?”

So I thought I would do a mini post, which is sort of book related – oops she will be furious ha, quickly asking for your thoughts. Do you read a book blog just for the book reviews/book thoughts or do you want to know more about the blogger’s book addiction and their life. Would you stop reading a book blog if the reviews were drying up and only the ‘sort of bookish bits’ were appearing instead, or do you like a bit of both? Can we bloggers occasionally over share?

There’s no right or wrong answer, in fact I haven’t made up my own mind on what my own response is to this quite yet, I just thought I would put it out there. And don’t be mean about the original question, not that you would, as it wasn’t meant meanly. I would love to hear from fellow bloggers and followers of blogs alike. Simply let me know what your thoughts are and whatever your response/personal preference is let me know the why. It’ll be interesting to see what the results may show…

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Would Love To Read…

I thought I would introduce a new little feature on Savidge Reads which is along the lines of ‘Would Like To Meet’ only a bit of a bookish version. I have said I want to get to some older books in my new guidelines for the blog, however no matter how many books we have… we always want more. Or is that just me? These aren’t books I am unsure about, like my ‘Do I Want To Read’ series these are books I would be devouring the moment I got to them. So I thought I would let my friends (hint), family (hint, hint) and all of you know of some titles that have appeared on my bookish radar every now and again which have not popped through the Savidge Reads letter box and which if I wasn’t on a self imposed book buying ban I would be running off to the shops to get my mitts on.

Interestingly I thought that my first ‘Would Like To Read’ would be filled with fiction as it’s what I assume I read the most yet its non fiction that has been grabbing my attention in the main over the last few weeks. The first of which is the highly timely, with Halloween just around the corner, is ‘The English Ghost: Spectres Through Time’ by Peter Ackroyd which sounds like a wonderful collection of true tales of the supernatural as the blurb describes much better than I could;

“The English, Peter Ackroyd tells us in this fascinating collection, see more ghosts than any other nation. Each region has its own particular spirits, from the Celtic ghosts of Cornwall to the dobies and boggarts of the north. Some speak and some are silent, some smell of old leather, others of fragrant thyme. From medieval times to today, stories have been told and apparitions seen – ghosts who avenge injustice, souls who long for peace, spooks who just want to have fun. “The English Ghost” is a treasury of such sightings – which we can believe or not, as we will. The accounts, packed with eerie detail, range from the door-slamming, shrieking ghost of Hinton Manor in the 1760s and the moaning child that terrified Wordsworth’s nephew at Cambridge, to the headless bear of Kidderminster, the violent demon of Devon who tried to strangle a man with his cravat and the modern-day hitchhikers on Blue Bell Hill. Comical and scary, like all good ghost stories, these curious incidents also plumb the depths of the English psyche in its yearnings for justice, freedom and love.”

The first of the fiction is actually short stories, again not my normal regular reading material, but the collection ‘The Empty Family’ not only has a wonderful intriguing title its also by Colm Toibin and after reading ‘Brooklyn’ I simply want to get to every single one of his books at some point and its always the ones that you don’t have that you want the most.

“’I imagined lamplight, shadows, soft voices, clothes put away, the low sound of late news on the radio. And I thought as I crossed the bridge at Baggot Street to face the last stretch of my own journey home that no matter what I had done, I had not done that.’ In the captivating stories that make up “The Empty Family”, Colm Toibin delineates with a tender and unique sensibility lives of unspoken or unconscious longing, of individuals, often willingly, cast adrift from their history. From the young Pakistani immigrant who seeks some kind of permanence in a strange town to the Irish woman reluctantly returning to Dublin and discovering a city that refuses to acknowledge her long absence each of Tobin’s stories manage to contain whole worlds: stories of fleeing the past and returning home, of family threads lost and ultimately regained.”

Could  my second non fiction title today ‘Chocolate Wars’ by Deborah Cadbury be this years most perfect Christmas read (its only just over two months away)? I think it could! I heard about this on a podcast last week and it was all I could do not to run out and buy it and break my ban. Fortunately it’s not out yet so I simply can’t. It will be as tempting as a box of Cadbury’s when it is out in the shops.  

The delicious true story of the world’s most famous chocolate firms by award-winning writer and a descendant of the Cadbury chocolate dynasty, Deborah Cadbury In ‘Chocolate Wars’ bestselling historian and award-winning documentary maker Deborah Cadbury takes a journey into her own family history to uncover the rivalries that have driven 250 years of chocolate empire-building. In the early nineteenth century Richard Tapper Cadbury sent his son, John, to London to study a new and exotic commodity: cocoa. Within a generation, John’s sons, Richard and George, had created a chocolate company to rival the great English firms of Fry and Rowntree, and their European competitors Lindt and Nestle. The major English firms were all Quaker family enterprises, and their business aims were infused with religious idealism. In America, Milton Hershey and Forrest Mars proved that they had the appetite for business on a huge scale, and successfully resisted the English companies’ attempts to master the American market. As chocolate companies raced to compete around the globe, Quaker capitalism met a challenge that would eventually defeat it. At the turn of the millennium Cadbury, the sole independent survivor of England’s chocolate dynasties, became the world’s largest confectionary company. But before long it too faced a threat to its very survival, and the chocolate wars culminated in a multi-billion pound showdown pitting independence and Quaker tradition against the cut-throat tactics of a corporate leviathan. Featuring a colourful cast of savvy entrepreneurs, brilliant eccentrics and resourceful visionaries; ‘Chocolate Wars’ is the story of a uniquely alluring product and of the evolution, for better and worse, of modern business.

I adore Dawn French as she really, really makes me laugh and ‘A Tiny Bit Marvellous’ is her debut novel. I have to admit I have high expectations of this for being laugh out loud funny or a piece of bittersweet genius. I am not sure if the fact the family’s dog is called Poo is really funny in a childish way or really not… hmmm, I would like to find out. I enjoyed her autobiography ‘Dear Fatty’ though I know autobiographies and fiction are very different, well with some people they are.

“Everyone hates the perfect family. So you’ll love the Battles. Mo is about to hit the big 50, and some uncomfortable truths are becoming quite apparent: She doesn’t understand either of her teenage kids, which as a child psychologist, is fairly embarrassing. She has become entirely grey. Inside, and out. Her face has surrendered and is frightening children. Dora is about to hit the big 18 . . . and about to hit anyone who annoys her, especially her precocious younger brother Peter who has a chronic Oscar Wilde fixation. Then there’s Dad . . . who’s just, well, dad.”

Finally there was another book which I have forgotten so will have a dig through my memories or maybe note books would be better to find out what it was. I was inspired by a review I read yesterday on lovely Kimbofo’s blog regarding ‘Nothing To Envy; Real Lives in North Korea’ by Barbara Demick which sounds incredible. I am intrigued and mystified by North Korea and this sounds like a really insightful look into the world that we know so little about other than what we are shown, which isn’t often. You can read Kim’s marvellous review on Reading Matters it sounds fantastic and one I would love to read too.

North Korea is Orwell’s 1984 made reality: it is the only country in the world not connected to the internet; Gone with the Wind is a dangerous, banned book; during political rallies, spies study your expression to check your sincerity. After the death of the country’s great leader Kim Il Sung in 1994, famine descended: people stumbled over dead bodies in the street and ate tree bark to survive. Nothing to Envy weaves together the stories of adversity and resilience of six residents of Chongin, North Korea’s third largest city. From extensive interviews and with tenacious investigative work, Barbara Demick has recreated the concerns, culture and lifestyles of North Korean citizens in a gripping narrative, and vividly reconstructed the inner workings of this extraordinary and secretive country.

So those are the books I most fancy, that I don’t own, right now and am eager to get my mitts on. What books have you added onto your ‘wish list’ of late? Any other books you have read of later that I simply must add to mine that I have missed this time round?

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The Bookshop – Penelope Fitzgerald

One of the things that lead me to wanting to have a little break from the blogging recently was that I had got myself into the habit of reading to write about the books on here. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing apart from the fact I was beginning to rush read in my enthusiasm and putting pressure on my reading and suddenly I just didn’t want to read. A lovely parcel then arrived in the post, from another very kind reader, containing ‘The Bookshop’ by Penelope Fitzgerald and I felt fate was sending me a sign and it turns out that I think it was because it was not only a book I wanted to read there and then because of the title, which I think would appeal to any book lover, it was also a book that made me read slower (that doesn’t mean it was boring) and sometimes you need good books that do that too.

‘The Bookshop’ centres around Florence Green and her desire to do something with her life after having been widowed. For several nights, as the book opens in the year of 1959, Florence has slept yet has felt she has been wide awake and the reason is she thinks she needs to open a bookshop in the seaside town of Hardborough. Something which she decides to do by converting the town’s ‘Old House’ which has been left derelict for several years so taking out a loan that’s what she does. Like all good smaller communities word spreads and as it does people start to ask her whether maybe she has chosen the right venue and before she knows it she is being subtly threatened by the towns self important and self elected honorary leader Violet Gamart who seems to have always wanted to make The Old House an arts centre but has never quite gotten around to it. Florence carries on with determination little knowing she will need courage as many an obstacle will be thrown in her way.

If I am honest I should have been slightly disappointed by this book. I was sort of demanding, in my head, a book about a book shop in a small town and all the crazy characters that pass through its doors. You do get that to a degree for example when Florence orders in copies of ‘Lolita’ causing a surge of gossip and huge crowds outside the shop causing traffic issues on the street. Some of it though seems slightly culled for the bigger picture which is that of a tale of a town wanting change and then being rather unsure it’s what the wanted at all and also of someone having the courage to do something different in the face of adversity. In the end for having all these strands I liked it all the better once I got my head around it.

Its not a book you can rush read (though its 156 pages so you could manage it in an evening or an afternoon) because its pace is meandering, rather like when you find your self in a book shelf slowly and enjoyably perusing the shelves you find yourself doing the same with Penelope’s prose and paragraphs. You get the feeling every word matters and every paragraph has been plotted, though there isn’t a massive plot in this novel, and placed where it is for a reason. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t quite yet you still enjoy reading it regardless. An example would be the rather bizarre and unexplained haunting by the poltergeist in The Old House which the townsfolk are always talking about and when we endure it with Florence actually proved quite chilling, perfect for this time of year, which I loved and yet I am sure Fitzgerald had thrown in for a reason I didn’t pick up on my first read.

It’s a book I want to return to eventually though as it has all the right ingredients, it makes you laugh, its quite touching and frustrating as you get to know the town and its people and it actually made me incredibly upset towards the end – not by the ending itself but by something that happens about three quarters of the way through and which of course I am not going to tell you anymore about.  It’s not a book that will shout out its accomplishments and wry storytelling so you jump out of your seat with its brilliance; instead it quietly and unassumingly tells you a story that will stay with you a good while after the final page is turned. 9/10

Savidge Reads suggests perfect prose partners;

Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald – I enjoyed Fitzgerald’s Man Booker winning novel when I read it last year (I actually didn’t realise it was that long ago so gave myself a shock, how does time whizz by so?) and said I wanted to read more Penelope Fitzgerald, now I am even more eager too.

Any of the works of Muriel Spark – I don’t want to compare specific books because there aren’t any I can think of and nor do I think Spark and Fitzgerald are of quite the same ilk, its just there is something that makes me think if you like Spark you would enjoy Fitzgerald too.

I don’t know if others will agree about my Spark comparison, is that helpful at all or true? Actually it’s less a comparison more a ‘maybe if you liked this, then you might like those’. Anyway regardless Fitzgerald is an author who I will endeavour to read even more of, and if you haven’t tried her do, I am just not sure where I should go next. There were lots of blurbs to her other books in the back of this one and they all sounded good. I thought I had some more of her books in the TBR but they are Penelope Lively, who I haven’t read any always confuse the two, is Lively any cop? Any advice?

This book was kindly sent to me by a reader of Savidge Reads just a week and a bit ago – a big thank you.

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Filed under Books About Books, Flamingo Books, Harper Collins, Penelope Fitzgerald, Review

A Guide To A New Start

So finally after giving myself a bit of brain space and doing lots and lots of brain storming and deciding which direction I want Savidge Reads to go to in the future weeks and months etc and I have come up with some new rules and the like to keep reminding myself of when things get a little bit crazy and I feel a bit pressured or out of it. I think it’s going to lead to a happier Savidge Reads, not that I was miserable just a bit vexed, and hopefully an even better one.

  • I started writing Savidge Reads for me as a journal of all things bookish and not for anyone else such as publishers, authors, blogger fame or for hits (though it is lovely that you all pop by – you know what I mean) and that is what I always need to remember.
  • Reading MUST come before blogging as though I LOVE blogging reading is my passion.
  • Reading more might mean blogging less and that’s fine.
  • I want to read by ‘whim’ I don’t want to be reading to deadline (apart from with The Green Carnation of course which is something special, oh and book group but that’s enough deadline reading) and so for now *it could change* its no more read-a-long’s, challenges or deadlines on when I have a book read by.
  • Reading by ‘whim’ means there will be some older books and more random books popping up on the blog and if that means less people pop by then so be it.
  • I will still be reading new stuff but no pressure please… my all new Review Policy is up and I will be sticking to it!!!
  • I am happy for publishers to send me all the books they could wish as long as they bare in mind the above, however even if it’s a book I really, really want to read and I start seeing it here there and everywhere I will be less likely to read it anytime soon, I like discussing a book but sometimes it can become overkill if you see the same book everywhere.
  • I can’t visit all the blogs in the world I would love to and that’s fine too as long as I pop by when I can.
  • My ‘book thoughts’ or reviews or whatever you want to call them will still be rated out of ten, but its based on enjoyment of reading and that means that an Agatha Raisin could get the same mark as a Dickens (if I ever get round to reading him) but its my blog and therefore my rules. Ha!
  • I will start saying where the books that I am reading have come from be they publishers, they were bought before my self imposed book ban for 2010, were gifts etc, etc. I should have done this for a while; it’s a little remiss of me.

I think that is it!!! Like my review policy these guidelines are getting their own page too. I hope it all makes sense and wont have readers, publicists and the like all running for the hills away from Savidge Reads. It’s just nice, refreshing and a bit liberating (is that a bit too dramatic. It feels like a nice fresh start. Right am off to read a book!

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Do I Want To Read…? A Ken Follett Special

Ok two posts in a day when I am on a mini break is a bit nuts but this is because I have an urgent book related question for you in a mini special ‘Do I Want To Read?’ So I am sat at home with a free day and a dilemma. I am having a lazy day of catch up on demand TV and I am in two minds about watching an adaptation of a book which I have never thought that I might want to read… until now. The adaptation in question, and there for the book is ‘The Pillars of The Earth’ by Ken Follett.

There is one main reason that I want to watch it and that is because it has one of my all time favourite actresses, oh sorry actors Sarah Parish in it, who I adore in every single thing that she adores (Hearts & Bones, Cutting It, Mistresses, I could go on and on) who is looking particularly menacing and fabulous in the promo shoots that I have seen…

I missed it over the weekend here in the UK (ahs it been on in America already?) and so thought ‘ooh, I will settle down and watch this double bill opening show’ but then I thought ‘ooh, maybe I should read the book first’. So I went off and had a look on the internet to find out more about it, before seeing if the library might have it, and discovered its 1100 pages long!!!! Now I actually fancy a book that I can get myself completely lost in (I haven’t discovered a comfy read I mentioned earlier yet) but I am a little pensive and the blurb makes me want to read it and not read it all at once…

“The Pillars of the Earth” tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known; of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect – a man divided in his soul; of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame; and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother. A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, this is Ken Follett’s historical masterpiece.”  

The reviews of the book seemed mixed and so I thought that I would throw it over to you as you guys are great with recommendations and may know if this is my cup of tea or not. So is it worth me trying to get it from the library (hopefully they don’t have the awful new TV cover, I don’t like them)? Will I get completely lost in it? Is it better I just stick to the TV series for an escape and not worry about the book, or should I try the TV show and see if that leads me to wanting to read the whole thing? Let me know I’m off to catch up with some other telly treats in the mean time.

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Spending Sundays With A Classic… Suspended

Well I am still having a sort of break from blogging but I wanted to just give you an update on one thing that I decided on yesterday, which was of course Sunday. That is that I have decided to cancel the rest of ‘Spending Sundays with a Classic’ I’m afraid.

I started ‘Crime and Punishment’ yesterday and I have a feeling that I am going to love it. However… it was just too heavy for my mood at the moment and I would want to give it its fare dues and read it without pressure. I actually think that it might be the perfect book for my plane flight to Brazil? I had a think about swapping some of the titles around and then I just thought ‘no… stop’. As you will see in my guidelines (and I still haven’t done my guidelines 100% but they are coming) one big thing for me moving forward will be ‘whim reading’ and that will involve classics just not under any deadlines or pressure.

So I am sorry if you have planned to read any of them but I will be reading them at some point just when they take my fancy. Isn’t it odd that deadlines don’t seem to work for me and yet I am in journalism?  Anyway they are all still on my peripheral eye line and at the top of the TBR so I will be getting to them when the mood overtakes. Right am off to go and find something to suit my current reading mood which is comfy I think… though what quite qualifies as a comfy book I have no idea. I will report back in due course.

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A Mini Break

I was planning on having a good natter with you all about Graham Greene’s novel ‘Our Man in Havana’ today, the truth is I haven’t finished it yet and am in no rush to, in part because I am enjoying it and want to tale it slowly – even humorous spy capers need some attention to not loose the plot, it’s also because I haven’t been able to read much for pure pleasure of late.

Its been deadline week at work so some books have been looked at for the book pages on the mag and then all the workload and hours went mad. I’ve also been re-re-reading some of The Green Carnation Longlist again, erm again, so I can make more sense of what I really really really love verses what I really really really like!

Theres also the fact that sickness has hit Savidge HQ with tonsillitis followed by my ‘phantom tonsillitis’ and general lurgy, so I think it’s time for a mini break (and who knows I could actually go on one!!!) for Savidge Reads and a long weekend of no work, no Green Carnationing, no posting and no computer. It’s needed and I also still want to think about my guidelines and motivations to Savidge Reads and it’s future which I hope will be long I just need to have a brain rest before a brain storm!

So I might be back in two days, I might be back in two weeks… But I will be back feeling bookishly refreshed and frisky… Well maybe just refreshed!

While I am off though if you have any feedback on Savidge Reads let me know be it the good the bad or the ugly. Whats working well and what’s not, would be interested on your thoughts when I turn the computer back on!

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Review Policy

I mentioned the other week that I had gotten a little bit vexed (oh how I love that word) over a few small situations, it’s always the small ones that bother you more than the big ones isn’t it? So anyway I decided that it was finally, after three years, time to sort out a Review Policy and at the same time come up with some new guidelines to remind me what Savidge Reads is all about (those are coming soon). So with regards to my Review Policy, well, I gave it lots of thought and then wrote about five different versions that seemed to never end. So I decided that it was a better idea for something short(ish) and sweet and came up with this…

“I am always happy to be contacted by publishers with regard to books both already out and forthcoming and especially your catalogues and press releases. There is the small catch of them coming guilt and time frame free, I may review them in days – it might take me a month or twelve, I think when a book is read everything needs to be aligned and so reading it at just the right time is vital and I am that can really only be judged by me, if that doesn’t sound too grand. I also think that some books need a little time to ferment in your brain as your decide if you like it, love it or aren’t quite sure.

I may read them and loathe them and so not want to write about them at all. I do the odd negative review if it enrages me enough but on the whole I want Savidge Reads to have books on it that excite me, I am not against book blogs that are negative on some books this is just my personal preference for my blog. If I feel a bit ‘meh’ about a book I may leave it and not cover it or leave it and let time tell if I really liked it.

With regard to unsolicited copies do feel free to send them my way me your books if you think I might fancy them (have a wander around Savidge Reads; my tastes are quite eclectic though which is never very helpful). I can’t guarantee if or when they will get read though I do always mention them on ‘Incoming’ posts so every booked received gets a mention at least. I have found some joys through some delightful unsolicited parcels so I am definitely not adverse to them.

Over all though I have one basic rule… no pressure please, do contact me by emailing savidgereads@gmail.com I always love a good natter about books and getting excited about both new ones and ones from your back catalogues I might have missed.”

So there you have it, I think it’s the right approach and hope it’s not pompous or up myself. I have stored it on its own page too. I am wondering if maybe I should mention scoring or not?  Maybe thats something for my guidelines? Speaking of which… The ‘Savidge Reads Guidelines’ are pretty much done I just want to mull them over further and make sure I haven’t missed anything out.

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