Friday, 30 November 2012

A Conspiracy Of Violence: 1: Chaloner's First Exploit in Restoration London – Susanna Gregroy

I am a big fan of historical mysteries, especially C J Sansom’s Shardlake series, so was excited about reading this book. I had hoped to fall in love with a new historical mystery, set in a different century and with a different character.

However, I quickly found that there were far too many characters, a lot of which had similar names (so many ones beginning with 'H' and 'D'!), which made the plot confusing. I constantly had to go back to previous pages to find out exactly who certain characters were.

Moreover, the ending was an anti-climax, I got to the point where I didn't really care about the mysteries he was trying to solve and I don't think there were any really exciting twists- outrageous omissions in a historical mystery series. The ending was very abrupt and the storyline started to annoy me, so I finished it feeling unsatisfied and upset with certain characters.

A far cry from C J Sansom’s Shardlake series, I am still on the lookout for a new historical mystery series to love.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Book of Tomorrow - Cecelia Ahern

This book possesses everything you want in a good story. It provided a total escape from my everyday life. A teenage girl, Tamara, discovers a diary- her diary- but of the next day, therefore of events that haven’t happened yet. By reading what happens she has the opportunity to act differently and change the future when living it for real.

I could not put this book down. Cecelia Ahern successfully weaves a bit of magic and mystery into reality and it makes for such captivating and enjoyable reading.

It’s so interesting to think about whether you would want to know what tomorrow brings so that you have the chance to alter it, or whether to let things be and live life with all its ups and downs the way we are suppose to.

What do you think?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Ebooks Outselling Printed Books

I read an article recently in ‘The Guardian’ discussing the fact that ebooks are now outselling printed books. According to the article, on Amazon, since the start of 2012, ‘for every 100 hardback and paperback books it sells on its UK site, 114 ebooks are downloaded’ (The Guardian, 2012).

I personally do not own a kindle, but know a lot of people that do. I’m not against them at all, I think anything that encourages people to read can only be a good thing, and I certainly would be happy if I received one as a present. However, there’s something about getting a new book- that new book smell and feel- that I think the Kindle, or other ereaders, will never be able to replace. The last book I read, ‘The Hobbit’, and the book I am currently reading, ‘Dominion’ by C J Sansom, both happen to have gorgeous maps on the first and last pages of them. I was thinking, while I was admiring these maps, that I would never get this feeling with an ebook and this is an aspect that can’t be replaced.

For me, I think a kindle would be great to have when travelling and commuting. As well as being bulky and sometimes heavy, carrying paperbacks/ hardbacks in your bag may also ruin the covers by bending them etc, so the kindle would eliminate this issue. On the other hand, I love curling up on the sofa or in bed with a good book.

At the moment, when I finish a book but am not in love with it, I generally give it to charity or to a friend. It is books like this which would be good to read on an ereader so that they don’t take up any space (I have a full bookcase of unread books in my flat at the moment as well as a full one of read books!). Yet, if I love a book, I keep it. I love admiring my favourite books all together on my bookcase and am constantly taking pleasure in rearranging them when I have new books to fit in. I think if I read a book that was brilliant on an ereader I would probably buy the paperback or hardback version afterwards anyway!

So, what are your thoughts on kindles/ ereaders? I think my opinion is quite indifferent towards them, but I would welcome comments and discussions from others on this issue.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Hobbit - J R R Tolkien

I have been meaning to read the Hobbit for years as it is one of my Dad's favourite ever books. Due to the release of the upcoming film, I thought now was as good a time as any. I was not disappointed in the slightest- this book was well worth the wait. I love to escape into fantasy occasionally, and Tolkien's vivid descriptions, his use of language and his imagination really made this an enjoyable read. At times I was laughing out loud- Golum is by far my favourite literary character now! It's a testament to Tolkien's writing that I felt scared of Golum and his unpredictability in places, but at the same time found him hilarious! At other times I found myself exclaiming 'phew' at some narrow escapes, and cheering at the reappearance of Gandalf.

I love the maps that Tolkien has included in this book- they're so artistic and fun to look at, plus they really bring the book to life and allow the reader to feel as though they are part of this world. 
Another thing that I love about this book was that it was really easy to read. Some classics can be a bit of a struggle, but this one was absorbing and the language/ tone not hard to get into at all. It was lovely curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea and my blanket and getting lost in the world of Bilbo and the Dwarves.

Full of action, adventure and a fantastic range of characters and creatures, I cannot wait for the film now!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

My Top 10 Favourite Books

Here are my top 10 favourite books at this moment in time.....

1. Harry Potter Series -J. K Rowling

-Obviously hugely popular and could be seen as rather a cliche to have in this list, but I would be lying to myself and to you if I didn't include them. I read the first Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) when I was 11, in my first year of secondary school. As Harry was also just entering secondary school it was great timing, and nice to read them growing up as Harry did. Obviously I'm much older now, but having re-read all 7 many times, I still love them as much as I did back then. I love revisiting them year after year and being able to appreciate aspects and themes I didn't as a child. 

2. Animal Farm -George Orwell
 -I read this book just after I had completed my degree, in which I studied modules in Stalinism. Orwell has cleverly and wittily told the story of the Bolshevik revolution and its aftermath through the animals on the farm. Even if you have no knowledge of Russian history, this book is a great, ironic, and easy read!

3. Sashenka - Simon Sebag Montifiore
-A moving and very realistic portrayal of a woman who joins the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 and her life 20 years later and how it's changed/ is changing. This book is so powerful I cried in places, and is a totally unique, amazing story. It captures the Great Terror that engulfed Russia between 1937-39 in a really real and emotional way, yet thrilling all the same.

4. Labyrinth - Kate Mosse
- Labyrinth has two intertwining plots, one of Alais in BC France, and one of Alice in the present day. Both stories are told and interlinked with each other. This book is completely gripping, as soon as I started reading I couldn't put it down! It is a classic historical thriller with many twists and turns as well as a great adventure and a bit of romance.

5. Shardlake Series - C J Sansom
-I love the Shardlake series! Set in England during Henry VIII's rule, we follow Shardlake, the hunchback lawyer, as he goes on various political missions, solves murders and is involved in thrilling escapades. Again, I read each book (there are 5 altogether) in one sitting as they are so gripping!

6. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
- This book is not like some of the better-known Dickens, such as 'Great Expectations' and 'David Copperfield'. It tells the stories of several characters, from a poor begger in Jo to the aristocratic Sir Leicester Deadlock. As the novel unfolds we learn how all of their lives are interlinked and have an effect on each other. A long book but definitely worth it, as it has a bit of everything in it- romance, mysteries and murders! There is also a fantastic recent BBC adaptation (I think 2006) of it with a great cast which anyone will be gripped by, whether they've read it or not!

7. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
-Absolute classic, I just love this book. I have read it and re-read it several times, as well as watching the amazing Colin Firth BBC adaptation to death! Fantastic portrayal of British life in the early 19th century, the love story with all it's drama, intrigue and misunderstandings will never get old.

8. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
-This is a book like no other. When I finished reading it for the first time I was almost appalled by its dark and brutal nature! It is a novel that sticks in your head and is impossible to forget, such is the impression it makes. It's so powerful, so whether you love it or hate it, you have to read it.

9. Before I Go To Sleep - S J Watson
-This is another powerful book that has a really different plot. Christine wakes up every morning with absolutely no memory. This is her story, and as each day unfolds we learn more and more about her past- some shocking revelations made me gasp out loud! All is not what it seems; it's a fantastic mystery/ thiller.

10.The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
-  This is a story of a little girl in Nazi Germany. Told through her eyes, it's a fantastic and thrilling portrayel of WWII, showing the innocence of youth while the reader knows the more sinister truth. It's a brilliant book.

(And for my beach read.... 11. Can You Keep A Secret - Sophie Kinsella
-This is a really funny, light-hearted book that every girl can relate too! I've read it several times on different holidays and it never fails to make me laugh or cheer me up. It's completely gripping and really easy to read- you'll finish it in no time!!)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

'The Hundred Year Old Man Who Jumped Out Of A Window And Disappeared' - Jonas Jonasson

'The hundred year old man who climbed out of a window and disappeared' is a thoroughly enjoyable book! A very light read, very dry humour, utterly unbelievable plot, but fun all the same!

As the long title implies, it is the story of Allan, who climbs out of the window of his nursing home on his 100th birthday, and goes on an adventure. The plot divides itself into Allan's history and the present day. Allan's history takes us through all the major events of the 20th century, and features comical scenarios and situations with all the major political figures!

I particularly enjoyed the history parts of this book, and hearing Allan's very relaxed, unfazed take on the major events of the 20th century. Not really a favourite-book-ever type of read but I would recommend it as a light-hearted, easy-to-read holiday book.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

BBC Top 100 Books to Read In a Lifetime

Just for a bit of fun.....

The BBC have provided a list of 100 books that they believe everyone should read in their lifetime. They state that most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here.

How many have you read? 

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible - Various
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 1984 - George Orwell
9 Northern Lights (The Golden Compass) - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
24 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
25 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
26 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
27 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
28 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
29 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
30 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
31 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
32 Emma - Jane Austen
33 Persuasion - Jane Austen
34 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
35 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
36 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
37 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
38 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
39 Animal Farm - George Orwell
40 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
41 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
42 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
43 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
44 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
45 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
46 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
47 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
48 Atonement - Ian McEwan
49 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
50 Dune - Frank Herbert
51 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
52 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
53 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
54 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
55 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
56 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
57 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
58 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
59 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
60 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
61 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
62 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
63 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
64 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
65 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
66 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
67 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
68 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
69 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
70 Dracula - Bram Stoker
71 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
72 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
73 Ulysses - James Joyce
74 The Inferno - Dante
75 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransom
76 Germinal - Emile Zol
77 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackera
78 Possession - AS Byatt
79 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
80 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchel
81 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
82 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
83 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
84 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
85 Charlotte's Web - EB White
86 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
87 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
88 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
89 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
90 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
91 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
92 Watership Down - Richard Adams
93 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
94 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
95 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
96 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
97 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
98 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
99 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
100 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

I've read 35 so far... will get cracking on the rest!!