Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Please check out my new 2012 reading challenge!

I'd love it if you would all participate and let me know of any other challenges out there that I could participate in!

Here's to a fabulous 2012 filled with lots of amazing books!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas everyone from Book Bug!
I hope Santa brought you all lots of excellent books to read!
Here's to a book filled wonderful 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Lost Daughter

This the first book I've read by the author Diane Chamberlain and I have to confess I was slightly disappointed. A friend recommended this to me as the author has been compared to Jodi Picoult who is one of my favourite adult authors. Alas, for me anyway, she didn't quite match up. I did enjoy the book ok, it just didn't have enough pace for me basically.
This is the story of a young girl who gets mixed up with a boy who ultimately uses her in his plan to try and have his sister freed from jail. The plan is to take the Governor's wife hostage, demanding the release of his sister for the Governor's wife, however things don't go to plan. The Governor's wife is pregnant and while CeeCee is looking after her, she goes into labour and dies, leaving a daughter behind. A daughter CeeCee ultimately ends up raising as her own.
Twenty years later, Tim, CeeCee's boyfriend at the time of the abduction, is arrested for the murder of the Governor's wife and her unborn child. CeeCee is torn apart with guilt and although she knows she could lose her "daughter" and family, she confesses all, with surprising consequences for everyone involved.
The story mainly revolves around CeeCee but we also get a glimpse into her daughter's life and what it has become and how it has done so based on the mother-daughter relationship; a relationship which has been created through the secret life CeeCee has had to create but where her love for her daughter was always the one main constant truth.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Why? The pace of the book was a little too slow for me. I felt it could have been a lot punchier.I also felt the author could have explored the relationship between the daughter and CeeCee more, this really only got going towards the end of the book. I personally felt the book could have been more polished as the plot line was definitely an attention grabber, I just didn't feel it kept mine at all times.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How do you like my new look?

My new blog look came about by complete accident when I stupidly hit the wrong button on the design page and then couldn't figure out how to undo it!! So I pretty  much had to start all over again. It's pretty similar to before except I've now added in a few colours to match my book bug logo!
I hope you all like it, but I would definitely love to hear if you have other ideas. While I see lots of great things on other people's blogs, I generally don't know how to recreate them on my own, for example combining my logo with the blog name, when I do it the way blogspot tells you to, it doesn't blend but squishes into a corner! Maybe I need to start some webdesign classes! 
Anywho! Please leave a comment with your thoughts! 
Book bug wants to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

As I said on my review of the first Harry Potter book - The Philosopher's Stone - this is the book that made me fall mad, head over heels, in love with the HP series. As I wasn't that bothered about the first book, I only read the second one as my friend lent it to me and I had little else to do. Good job I never turn down a book!

The book starts the same way as all of them. Harry is at home with the Dursleys. It's become one of my favourite parts of the book as its often the only glimpse into the Dursley household that we get but yet they are such an integral part of the story. It's also become a great way to link the muggles with the wizards, providing hilarious insights into the muggle world courtesy of the Weasley family who often find their actions mystifying and amusing.
This book also introduces us to a new character who, while extremely annoying, becomes one of my favourite characters of the series - Dobby the house elf. Rowling, yet again opens up a whole new world, introducing us to the weird and wonderful world of house elves in wizarding households. Dobby appears initially to try and stop Harry from going back to school but fails to succeed when Ron comes and rescues Harry with the help of his flying car (I won't spoil the story, it's definitely one to read for yourself!
It all to soon becomes clear why Dobby was so reluctant to let Harry return to school - Voldemort is definitely back in the wizarding world, although there are mixed reactions to his return, with many doubting it, most likely due to the fear and horrors his return represents.
So, the Chamber of Secrets...again I won't spoil the surprise except to say this: Ginny, Ron's younger sister is in her first year at Hogwarts and like many first years, is often lonely and nervous but finds comfort in a diary that she can write in, only for it to write back. Harry hears voices in the walls of the school corridors. Students, including Mrs Norris, the janitor's cat, are attacked by  being petrified randomly in the school. Hagrid's past is opened up to us and we learn more about the boy who became Lord Voldemort.
Super exciting and fascinating to read as the story and secrets unfold! I loved it!! It's no longer my favourite book in the series but will always hold a special place in my heart as the book that made me love the books.

Rating: 5 out of  5
Why: JK Rowling completely captivated me with this book. While the first was jammed pack with characters, this one introduces even more and their paths are all linked. This is shown throughout all 7 books, and frankly, I don't know how she remembers it all! She opens up the background to the characters and the ways in which she makes the muggle world seem "weird" over the wizarding world is brilliant, completely sucking you in and making you almost believe you too are part of the wizarding world and community. Simply brilliant.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The postman has delivered!

Yahey!! Woohoo!! Fandabbydozy!!
My new books - The Hunger Games - have arrived in the post!
Now I know what I'll be reading during my Christmas holidays, although to be honest, I'm not sure I can even wait that long to start!!
There is just something so exciting about a new book, its pristine condition, the shiny cover, the flawless spine....I'm practically salivating just thinking about it! And I haven't even mentioned the box!
Yep, these will fit in nicely on my bookshelf. There's something special about a boxset when it contains an entire series. I have the first four Harry Potter books in a boxset and I still wish I had one of all seven, although, granted, that would be a pretty big box! 
Bring on the Games! :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Poll Results - Where is your favourite spot to read?

The results are in!!
When asked where is your favourite spot to read, you ranked the options as follows:

1. In bed
2. On the bus/train
3 & 4 Curled up on the sofa & on a park bench

This time I only got 3 out of the wanted 5 votes, so yes, this is my last poll! I had hoped more people would take part, but clearly polls aren't as much fun as I thought they would be!
Thanks though to those who did participate! Please keep reading!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Coming soon to my bookshelf!

After hearing about these books from other people and with the movie due out any day now (I think), I figured it was time I dipped my toe in the water to see what all the fuss is about.
Personally, I think a good book series is hard to come by. Harry Potter was the first that really caught my attention in a long time and I think the fact that it includes 7 books, all of which I love, is an impressive feat. While I loved the first Twilight book, the standard of the remainder seemed to slip with each book, HP on the other hand just kept getting better. A tough act to follow. Eventually I managed to find a book series aimed at adults, the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Loved it!
So here I am again, about to read books aimed at young adults. I'm not sure what that says about my mentality or the quality of adult fiction out there, but ultimately, I figure, if I enjoy it, who cares what age it's aimed at.
My order is in and apparently dispatched. Any day now...least I'm all set for my Christmas break, yay!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Calvin & Hobbes funny

As mentioned in a previous post, I am a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan by Bill Watterson. I get a daily email every day with one of the comic strips. This one came through the other day and I could resist sharing it with you. And despite the fact that I'm 31, I still think it would be soooo cool to have a tiger just like Hobbes who can talk and is super cute!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Poll Results - What is your favourite format of book?

The results are in!!
When asked what is your favourite format of book, you ranked the options as follows:

1. Hardback
2. Paperback
3. Kindle

Again, unfortunately there weren't too many participants, so I'm not sure if I should do another poll or not. Ok, one more, but if I don't get more than 5 responses, that's the last!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shelf Candy Saturday

This month, my Shelf Candy Saturday, brought to us by the fabulous Five Alarm Book Reviews, for which the idea is to share the cover of a book that we like, either due to the author, the illustrator or the photographer; is in keeping with our current festive season of Halloween!

So here is my Shelf Candy Saturday book cover: IT by Stephen King designed by David Argemi.

I have to confess that I haven't actually read the book. I first saw the film when I was about 13 or 14 (no, my parents didn't know!) and it scared the life out of me. I had nightmares for weeks. And I've probably watched it a further two times for good measure! I eventually decided I should read the book as books are always better (naturally!) but I think I got to about chapter 3 or 4 and was so scared I had to stop!!
I have never been able to think about clowns in the same way since. Nor can I walk past a street drain without expecting to see a clown face staring out at me, ready to grab me!
This cover definitely encapsulates everything about IT, from the scary clown face to the font used for IT. I'm sure Stephen King was as impressed by it as I am.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cartoons for all ages?

At 30 I might be considered a little old for cartoons, but as I didn't discover Calvin and Hobbes until I was 18, I think that gives me licence!
Calvin and Hobbes is a cartoon based on a young boy and his toy tiger who comes to life when it's just the two of them together. They fight, they laugh, they play, they go off on crazy adventures together, but ultimately, they are true friends. 
They fight with the next door neighbour Suzy. Calvin gets picked on by the school bully. Hobbes pounces on Calvin every time he comes through the front door. 
A witty insight into all the little things that really do go on in life, with a vocabulary well beyond their years, a limitless amount of imagination and super cute drawings, all from the geniusness that is Bill Watterson.
And who wouldn't love something with this quote  - 
Calvin: I’m a genius, but I’m a misunderstood genius.
Hobbes: What’s misunderstood about you?
Calvin: Nobody thinks I’m a genius.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Inspiration needed!
I can only confess that I've been lacking inspiration recently in relation to my blog. This is partly reflected from my life in general and simply looking for and having the time to read more. I guess, in reality, I do have the time, I'm just lazy, so I need to get out of my slump and start kicking my butt into shape (in all manner of metaphors!).
Maybe you can help me out and give me some ideas. Anything fun. Anything at all, from simple things that take 5 minutes to something that requires a bit more effort.
I found this pic when I googled inspiration. The site its from is pretty cool, just looking at the other pics perked me up. Seems inspiration comes from all sorts of things and places and people. 
Here's hoping I find it.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Poll Results - What is your favourite genre of book?

The results are in!!
When asked what is your favourite genre of book, you ranked the options as follows:

  1. Thriller
  2. Horror, Romance, Sci-fi, Adventure
  3. Comedy

Comedy didn't get any votes at all in fact which was a surprise, but I'm glad to see Thriller came in top! I'd have hoped for more variety in the results, so please be sure to vote on the current poll!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Birthday present suggestions please!

It's my birthday today, so I thought I'd ask you guys for suggestions on a really good book that I could buy to treat myself!!
I love books that are all about suspense and mystery, where I have to think and try (and invariably fail) to figure out how its going to end!!
A current favourite is the Stieg Larsson trilogy, but I'm thinking of maybe reading the Hunger Games next or the Game of Thrones books.
All ideas welcome!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A picture tells a thousand words...

I came across this pic on the Your Shot website and I think it sums up us readers thoughts perfectly.
It's the one by Juan Rubiano  - Picture 7 on page 4.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Harry Potter in the bathtub!

I am very particular about my books. I know people that love their books to looked dog-eared and therefore read while others would die if they even so much as slightly cracked the spine (how do they manage that by the way??). I am happy to bend the spine. But it ends there. I hate curled pages, fraying edges, no, I like my books to look neat and tidy. Well loved and well preserved. So how did Harry end up in the bath you ask?
My 2nd cousin (who is half my age!) was of course reading Harry Potter at the same time as I was. Wasn't everyone?! One of the new books had come out and she'd failed to get her copy so her mother asked me would I mind lending her it. Thankfully before I had time to respond she said, no, I remember what you're like with books, don't worry, I'll get her a copy. Cue, major sigh of relief from me.
And two nights later she was reading Harry Potter in the bathtub when she dropped the book. Yep! Into the tub! 
My Harry Potter book remains as it should. Her's is twice the size with mega wrinkly pages. Having said that, she hasn't done it again since!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Fabulous Post!

My friend Crystal of Cheyne Reactions pointed out this post to me and I have to say it is totally awesome! You can view the original post here. I imagine all Harry Potter fans will read this and nod their heads in agreement and wish that they'd had the ability to put these thoughts into words!

1997 - 2011

Harry Potter taught me that some things are worth dying for.
Ron Weasley taught me that believing in yourself is a hundred times more powerful than luck.
Hermione Granger taught me that an education is a girl’s best asset, even if it doesn’t make you many friends.
Severus Snape taught me to never, ever, ever judge someone.
Rubeus Hagrid taught me that anything can be cute with the right perspective.
Ginny Weasley taught me that bold is beautiful.
Lily Potter taught me that a mother’s love is the strongest force on earth.
Remus Lupin taught me that fear is the only thing I should be afraid of.
Dolores Umbridge taught me that education with a political agenda is a terrible, terrible thing.
Sirius Black taught me that the ones we love never truly leave us.
Albus Dumbledore taught me that good people are not always good.
Draco Malfoy taught me that bad people are not always bad.
Neville Longbottom taught me that courage is standing up for what’s right, even when you’re scared out of your mind.
Luna Lovegood taught me that weird is wonderful.
Dobby taught me that freedom is a gift.
Lucius Malfoy taught me that no amount of money, pomp, or circumstance will buy you true friends.
Fred & George Weasley taught me that sometimes all you need is a good laugh.
The Dursleys taught me that a world without imagination is a dull and dreary place.
Arthur Weasley taught me that an good sense of curiosity and a bit of obsession can be healthy.
Fleur Delacour taught me that true love is not based on appearance.
Molly Weasley taught me that a happy family is not measured in gold.
Bellatrix Lestrange taught me that hatred and prejudice rot your mind and can turn even the most beautiful person into a monster.
Kreacher taught me that if you want to get to know a man, look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.
Cho Chang taught me that rebound relationships almost never work.
Nymphadora Tonks taught me to love myself, no matter what I look like.
Percy Weasley taught me that, in the end, no career is worth sacrificing your family.
Sybill Trelawney taught me that you cannot change the past, only the future.
Lavender Brown taught me that physical relationships only last for so long.
Peter Pettigrew taught me that rats do not make good friends.
Nicholas Flamel taught me that to the well-prepared mind, death is but the next great adventure.
Minerva McGonagall taught me that a good cause is worth fighting for at any age.
Hedwig taught me that the love we have for our pets is very real.
Lord Voldemort taught me that a life without love is barely living.
J. K. Rowling taught me that the stories we love will always be with us.
Until the very end.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Shelf Candy Saturday

I've just been introduced to the fabulous idea of Shelf Candy Saturday by Five Alarm Book Reviews and basically the idea is to show a favourite book cover or simply one that caught your eye and to write about it! Simple but genius!

So here is my Shelf Candy Saturday book cover: The BFG by Roald Dahl. 

When I was a kid, I adored the drawings of illustrator Quentin Blake in Roald Dahl's books. They were like nothing I'd seen before, all spiky lines and exaggerated angles. For me, Roald and Quentin became synonymous with one another, you couldn't have the story in your head without Quentin Blake's images popping up too and when you saw the images, you immediately thought of Roald Dahl and his amazing stories. A partnership made in heaven, surely!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Poll Results - Who is the best children's author of all time?

The results are in!!
When asked who is the best children's author of all time, you ranked the options as follows:
  1. Roald Dahl
  2. CS Lewis
  3. JK Rowling
  4. Enid Blyton
I was very pleased to see Roald Dahl win as he got my vote, I was surprised JK Rowling was number three though. Seems the classics have still got it!
Hope you'll vote in the current poll!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The TV Book Club

I saw this on TV for the first time a few weeks ago by pure accident and I have to say, I was bored stiff!! The presenters seemed as about excited as dead dogs when introducing the programme and only became slightly more animated when talking about the books they were reviewing. Maybe they figure books are a serious subject, but where was the enthusiasm, the love, the awesomeness associated with a good book?
I decided to give the programme the benefit of the doubt and tuned in the next week. I lasted as far as the first break. Maybe its just me, but when I talk about books I can't help but get excited and animated, even when its a bad book! 
So if anyone out there knows of a good programme about books, please let me know. Otherwise I'll just have to stick with the amazing blogs out there! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Philopsopher's Stone

I first read this in 2001. The film was literally days away from release and I thought I should really try and read the book first. Also, I thought it was probably time I had gotten on the bandwagon as people everywhere were talking non-stop about Harry Potter and about how amazing the book was.
I didn't finish the book before I saw the film. In fact (and I can barely believe this now but...) I wasn't really all that enamoured with the book. I didn't get the hype. I didn't rush to absorb every page, it was only because I always finish a book that I made the effort to do so. 
I've now re-read this book at least 10 times and I suspect will continue to do so for the rest of my life. So what changed you ask? Well, book 2 changed it all for me. But more on that when I review book 2!
As most of you probably already know, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the story of an orphaned boy taken in by his horrid aunt and uncle. On his 11th birthday he discovers that he is a wizard and not only that, he is famous throughout the entire wizarding world as the boy who lived - an evil wizard killed his parents and tried to kill Harry, but for some reason, Harry is the only person ever to have survived. And so it begins, an adventure that lasts 7 books and that will no doubt last our own lifetimes as we relive it over and over again.
Harry starts school and soon begins to learn the story relating to his parents death and all that goes with the evil wizard Voldemort. Meanwhile, Voldemort, who has never been seen or heard of since the night he killed Harry's parents, is scheming his return, a plan that ultimately sees Harry and his new friends enter battle with the darkest of forces.
While this is a book aimed at children, I confess I absolutely loved it (although as mentioned already, the love took a while to appear)! I think children appreciate the amazing wizarding world while adults appreciate JK Rowling's masterful writing. The book is a literary delight, a treat for the imagination and the beginning of a beautiful relationship with Harry and his friends and teachers and the wizarding world. I still don't think its the best book of the bunch, but as a whole series, it plays its part perfectly.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Why: JK Rowling leads us on a rollercoaster of a journey filled with lots of details and pictures which truly open up the magical world she has envisaged. The way she has linked all the books together in my mind is mindboggling! There are so many details in each book that fit together in the end, but along the way you don't appreciate them - definitely a smart way to pull the reader in and ensure you re-read her books. I liked that I read these alongside the films, because although the films are nowhere near as good, they help a lot with the imagery and the formation of the characters and in the end you feel a part of it all. A writer's dream surely.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Book Bug List - book of the moment

Soon to be released as a major motion picture, I'd fully recommend getting in there first and reading this awesome book. This is the first book I've read in a long time where I literally couldn't put it down. My mother, who never reads books, eventually listened to my pleas that she should read this one, and when she finally picked it up, well, she couldn't put it down either!!
Set in the early 1960s, this tells the tale of a white woman and her interest in the black slaves in the community she lived in. My favourite character was Minnie, a no nonsense, straight talking woman, who harbours a secret for much of the book. When it is revealed it is more horrific than I could have imagine and more hilarious that it probably should be!
An educating, thrilling, funny, heartbreaking read; don't miss out! Grab a copy quick!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Normally I'm not really a fan of true stories or autobiographies for that matter, but when my neighbour handed this book to my mother and I spotted it lying around, well, it was a book...of course I had to read it!
This is the tragic, yet ultimately triumphant, story of Constance Briscoe who as a young girl is completely abandoned by her mother and left to fend for herself. She is literally left all by herself.
Physically and verbally abused by her mother, a young Constance tried to have herself taken into care by Social Services. They refused. Nor did they ever follow up her request as to why it was made. At the tender age of thirteen, her mother walked out on her, leaving her to fend for herself. Constance had to make her own food, wash her own clothes, get herself out to school and eventually even get a job to be able to support herself once her mother stopped giving her money.
Despite her constant struggles with life, depression and the beatings she encountered from both her mother and her stepfather, Constance eventually finds some solace with a school teacher, Miss K, who takes her in and looks after her. Unfortunately this does not end well when the teacher suffers an accident and Constance is left alone again. Her time however with Miss K, gave her the motivation and courage to succeed. Dogged determination, an iron will and sheer hard work sees Constance study and pass her A-levels and she eventually manages to get to Newcastle University, despite her mother's attempts to thwart this.
I won't spoil the ending, except to say its a good one, sufficiently so for the author to pen a second book, Beyond Ugly, which is definitely on my reading book.
It is difficult to believe that in the UK such acts can occur. I know I certainly could not have endured what she endured, but then I guess she really knew no different to a degree and I can only imagine what a beautiful person she has become.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Why: Constance tells the story in an almost matter of fact way. She doesn't come across as begging for sympathy, she just tells it like it was, but her ultimate triumph is all the glory she deserves and more. She may not seem to want our sympathies but she certainly gains our utmost and most deserving admiration.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Coming Soon! Entire Harry Potter Series Rreview!

It is actually with some sadness that I will be writing these reviews. From reading my first Harry Potter book, The Philosopher's Stone, back in 2001, I have amassed a wealth of wonderful memories surrounding these books and enjoyed the frantic rush to read and absorb each new book on its release. It is strange to think that a collection of books, and essentially a children's selection no less(!), could have had such an impact on my life, but then, I think anyone who has read the books, will have happy memories linked to them. 
Truly something that will go down in modern history, its been such a long time that something like this has had such an effect on the world and I'm only too glad to have been part of it. Maybe being an adult has helped as I can appreciate it more and will be more able to recall the events around each book and film. It is hard to believe that it has now come to an end (although Pottermore might change that!) but I have no doubt that HP fans will be only too happy to revisit the books, and maybe, if there are actually people out there who haven't read them, then they'll want to join in too!
So please, join in the fun with me in the coming months before Pottermore hits the web in October! I'll be reviewing each book and sharing my memories linked to them and I would love it if you would share yours too! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Book Bug List - book of the moment

The book of the moment for me is this amazing Roald Dahl book. Not so much a children's book, I think this is more a reminiscent delight for adults. It's a complete smorgasbord of selected parts of his novels and poems, as well as personal viewpoints from Roald Dahl himself and the fabulous illustrator Quentin Blake, among others.
As a child, Roald Dahl was my favourite author and the first to introduce me to completely crazy fantasies and crazy words such as Sugar Snorters and Muggle-Wumps! My friend Rachel bought me this knowing how much I loved Roald Dahl and I have to say, I think it was one of the best gifts I've ever received!
And if you haven't ever read a Roald Dahl book, I would suggest it's never too late...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Are you Harry Potter mad?

JK Rowling has created a new website to help satisfy our Potter lust now that the final film of the book series has been made. It isn't released until October, but I'm pretty sure it will be worth the wait!! I'm excited already just looking at it - Pottermore: Register your interest

The Swan Thieves

I was super excited when I saw this book, having read the author's other book The Historian. Unfortunately it didn't match up to the author's first effort. While I had found it took a while for The Historian to get going, The Swan Thieves literally took until about the last 5 chapters to get going! Not so good.
The story revolves around an artist who is obsessed with painting a woman. A woman who, it turns out, is dead and is one he's never met. After attacking a painting, he ends up in a mental hospital where his therapist sets off on a mission to find out what it was that caused this man to attack a painting and along the way, naturally, has his own journey of self discovery  through the people he meets and the journeys they lead him on to seek out the reason behind his patient's arrival at his clinic. 
Other characters in the book are the artist's wife and girlfriend, the woman who features in the paintings and her lover; and the woman's daughter and partner. The author brings in the subject of the paintings through a series of letters she and her lover write to each other and thus cleverly brings together the current storyline and the historical context its based on. 
All of the characters are interwoven into the story throughout the book and slowly (emphasis on slowly!) help to finally bring together the entire background to the artist's attack on the painting in the museum that occurred right at the start of the book.
Given her first book, Elisabeth Kostova is very much into weaving out an elaborate story, with lots of detail and happy coincidences thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately she fails to keep the pace going on what otherwise could have been an excellent novel. Alas, it was disappointing at best.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Why: While the plot (in the end) was rather exciting, it took far too long to get going and for the first time in a long time, it actually took me months to finish this book! I only read it out of determination to finish it rather than wanting to read it. Not exactly what a good book should do!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Current favourite author

My current favourite author is JODI PICOULT. The first book I read of her's was Nineteen Minutes, a story about a high school student who walks into school one day and shoots several of his fellow pupils. The book follows the story from several different angles, i.e. it is told from the perspective of the different people involved.
I have since read several others of her books, but the first is still my favourite. 
Sometimes harrowing, always related to something in life you could actually have to face yourself, her books make you think and also appreciate a little more the good life you have.
Other titles I've read:
  • My Sister's Keeper
  • Change of Heart
  • The Tenth Circle
  • Picture Perfect
Pick up a book today! You won't be disappointed I promise!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This book was part of my A-Level syllabus, and had it not been for that, I would doubt that I would ever have read it. Why? Its just about the longest book on the planet! It wasn't until I read it for the second time that I fell in love with it and I recently revisited it when I was off sick from work, always the perfect opportunity to spend time with a book.
Middlemarch by George Eliot, was originally written as a series, which explains its length. I think it probably works best in this format and is best to read as such, as it really does seem interminable at times.
Based around the townspeople of Middlemarch, the book follows the stories of several people, mainly couples and their trials and struggles though life. The theme is love and the effects money, standing in society and mismatched other halves have on their relationship and those around them.
Central couples include Mrs. Casaubon and Will Ladislaw, Rosamond and Mr. Lydgate, The Garth family and a few other characters that interweave among everyone. 
Each relationship is completely different, each with its own trials and successes. Set in England in the early 1800s, standing in society plays an enormous part in people's lives, where scandal is the talk of the entire village and shady characters and secrets are aplenty.
There is so much detail in the book that I can barely begin to discuss it without revealing too much about the storylines that interweave and entangle themselves throughout. I will say that the length of the book should not be a deterrent and it really is an excellent read. George Eliot skillfully pulls you into each character, giving great depth and insight into their thoughts, so that at times, you don't know who's side you should be on. By half way through, you feel as if you know some of the characters intimately, while others remain a mystery until their role in the plot is finally revealed. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Why: At times, I felt George Eliot rambled on somewhat unnecessarily. Coupled with the old style of writing and speech, it was sometimes difficult (for me at least!) to fully understand what exactly she, or should I say he(!) was trying to say. The length is a little annoying and wearying at these parts, but otherwise not an issue as there is enough to keep your attention rapt and ensure you continue to read. Defintely worthy of its status in Classic Literature.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Book Bug List - book of the moment

The book of the moment definitely has to be, well, any one of the three books in Stieg Larsson's Millenium trilogy. Having read them all (reviews still to come), I think my favourite was the second installment - Girl Who Played With Fire.
Smart, strong, independent, Lisbeth Salander's story will undoubtedly remain atthe top of booklists for several year's to come; and while I know the Swiss film version of the book has been made, it is only a matter of time before Hollywood jumps on the bandwagon and makes this the explosive blockbuster it deserves to be.
A must read!!

Sunday, June 05, 2011


A history buff I am not. In fact, having spent my 3 long years at school learning all things about Britain/Ireland and how, depending on who you were reading, it was always the other one's fault that chaos ensued, I have, to be quite frank, blocked most of it from my consciousness and my brain instantly falls asleep when the words British or Irish history are mentioned. So it was with a little trepidation that I agreed to read this book when my friend offered to lend me it. Well, it was either that or the 6th Harry Potter book as I'm re-reading them between other offerings. Wedlock won once I read the punchline:
How Georgian Britain's Worst Husband Met His Match
What's not to love?
Naturally, as a woman, when I hear of men getting their comeuppance, well, I can't help but smile mischieviously! Not that I'm some hardened feminist, but you know how it is...
As the punchline accurately describes what the book is about, I won't go into loads of detail. Needless to say, I am eternally grateful  that I wasn't born in that era and I think I was more shocked to discover that rape within marriage only became illegal in 1991, than the general goings on of the Georgian era.
Mary Eleanor Bowes, a privileged young woman, raised when men married for money and women married to ensure they stayed secure, made an ill matched first marriage at a young and impressionable age. However her problems only began after her husband died, leaving her a young widow. Having learned little from the experience, Mary went on to flirt and enjoy romances with several men at once which ultimately led to her downfall. As the tradition then was, Mary became the subject of a battle of honour. Andrew Robinson Stoney offered his life to fight for Mary and in doing so won her hand having won the fight. However, the fight was a sham and Mary became cleverly entrapped in a loveless, violent marriage. Spending all her money, beating her ruthlessly, fathering numerous children to various and many women, Mary's life became one of sheer misery, her every moment governed by her tyrannical husband. 
In a day when men very much had the upper hand, it seemed there was little Mary could do to change her fate. With her children from her first marriage governed by her late husband's brother, the law seemingly on her current husband's side as to his rights to her, it took all of Mary's courage to break free and win a longsuffering battle.
With the help of a maid, Mary managed to flee and began a long and tedious fight to divorce her husband, claim her money and be reunited with her children. Ever shrewd and clever, Stoney put up a tremendous fight. 
Obviously, Mary won the battle. Without explaining all,  it has to be said that the law has certainly turned somewhat today, with men having more trouble fighting for their children than mothers. Mary's fight was unprecedented and she certainly paved the way for the future.
The author does a great job of interweaving the facts of history with a narrative that keeps the reader's interest and enthusiasm. While there are a lot of history facts to keep the history buffs interested, the narrative is smooth enough for people like me, who simply enjoy a good read.
While the ending wasn't quite as shebang as I'd have liked, it has to be remembered that this is a true story and on the whole, given the circumstances, the best ending that could have been hoped for.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Why: This was much better than I had anticipated for a non-fiction book, definitely making me re-think my fiction only rule. Obviously the subject was one of interest for me which helped tremendously, but the beautifully written narrative, while peppered with historical facts, allows the story to flow seamlessly. However, unfortunately for me, I'm still not convinced I'm ready to become a history buff!
Recommendations: The TV Book Club Best Read, sponsored by Specsavers, Channel 4 and More 4.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Someone Knows My Name

I confess this was not my choice of book. As a child, I had endless hours to spend perusing the bookshelves of my local bookstore, but as a (supposed) grown-up, I rely on either media hype or recommendations from friends. 
As I had been the one to come up with the idea that my transatlantic friend and I should read a book together for discussion in an attempt to reduce the miles between us, I let her choose the book. 
Initially I thought, hmm. Mainly because I hate reading books where there's a possibility I might cry, but this was a prime example of one of those books that could easily have passed me by and I'm so glad it didn't.
While a work of fiction, the story is interwoven with slightly altered facts in order for them to enhance and fit in with the author's narrative, giving it the weight it deserves.
The book is told from the standpoint of Aminata Diallo, who is stolen from her native Africa and sold into the slave trade at the tender age of 11. A horrendous boat trip takes her to America where she resides for many years before finally earning her supposed freedom by moving onto Nova Scotia, then back to her homeland or Sierra Leone as it is by this stage known; and finally to England. Aminata or Meena as she becomes known, has both intelligence and the privilege of parents who taught her to read and write. A rarity among the slaves, this helps Meena on her travels, giving her many opportunities for a slightly easier life than that experienced by the other slaves. This both serves to highlight the gross treatment of the slaves as lesser mortals and the disadvantages they faced in their adversities and shows just what they might have achieved, had they had the opportunities.
Meena's story is heartbreaking involving long separations from her husband and children, with many ties broken along the way. She is blessed to meet a much needed companion along each of her travels, who are able to help her and provide her some comfort in the hard life that she lives.
As I said this is a work of fiction, but the author does a marvellous job of bring Meena to life and I literally kept having to check the back of the book to confirm that she wasn't a real person. Her beauty, intelligence, wonderful spirit and luminosity glows throughout, quickly sucking the reader in and making you feel as if you are listening to an old friend.
At times raw and painful, there are also moments of great beauty and love. The amazing Aminata leads a life she doesn't deserve but I'm glad that in the end, she receives the love, care and devotion she deserves.
I would thoroughly recommend this book and it is certainly proof that you shouldn't just stick to the genre's you prefer, that there are gems out there that you could easily miss.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Why: A beautiful yet horrific story that fully brings to life the tale of a slave. Torn from her home and loved ones, Aminata continually shines and survives the many atrocities and adversaries she faces. Despite her treatment and hardships, she shows just how beautiful the human spirit can be. A fictional character who worthily represents the real victims of slavery, and who ultimately shows the true worth of those forced into slavery, by triumphing over her supposed superior captors.
Awards: Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize