Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top Ten Books That Should Be In Your Beach Bag

There's no way I could resist not listing the top ten books that should be in your beach bag. But it's not fair to only be restricted to ten! Perhaps I'll have to make multiple lists this week. But for now, these would be my absolute top Top Ten!
Top 10 Tuesdays, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Chasing Harry Winston, by Lauren Weisberger

2. My Best Friend's Girl, by Dorothy Koomsman

3. Beautiful Creatures, by Lulu Taylor

4. Gypsy, by Lesley Pearse

5. From Notting Hill With Love... Actually, by Ali McNamara

6. The Essence of the Thing, by Madeleine St John

7. Any Jill Mansell

8. Any Penny Vincenzi

9. Any Jackie Collins

10. The Millenium Trilogy, by Steig Larrson

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
--Grab your current read
--Open to a random page
--share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
Be sure NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
--Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

"Cartwright tells his wife that after he has been to the hospital, he will return home immediately, but he has no intention of doing so, because he has already planned a detour that will take him to Mr and Mrs Elliot's house. And what could possibly have been the reason for this nocturnal visit at two AM?"
p446, Sons of Fortune, by Jeffrey Archer

This books was AMAZING, right up until the very last line! I'm a bit behind with my reviews at the moment (actually make that a lot behind) but once I get around to posting my review on this book, it's getting 5+ stars. A must read!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ten Good Things on a Monday ... books on my "geek" shelf

My attempts at organising my bookshelves has seen the following categories emerge: books by country, books by author and... reference books. Yes, there is a geek in me who loves a dictionary, a reference book, and an encyclopaedic or atlas to be visible on the shelf.

So to bring the inner geek in me out on this last Monday in May, here's a list of what's on my "academic" bookshelf:

1. Oxford English Dictionary
And the matching thesaurus!

2. A Cheat's Guide to the Classics
35 of the world's greatest literary masterpieces from Pride & Prejudice to War & Peace in outline, providing the perfect way to get to grips with the greatest novels of all time - for those who have little time to read - or who already have an exhaustive TBR pile!

3. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
Yes - this is one enormous book!

4. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss
The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation - it's brilliant!

5. Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson
An insight into how a language 'treated for centuries as the inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants' has now become the undisputed global language (more people learn English in China than live in the USA)!

6. i before e (except after c), by Judy Parkinson
Old-school ways to remember stuff

7. Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas, by Judy Parkinson
Popular expressions - what they mean and where we got them

8. Lost for Words, by John Humphrys
The mangling and manipulating of the English language

9. The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennet
Got to love this one!

10. A Butler's Guide to Table Manners, by Nicholas Clayton
This is a National Trust publication which I picked up in Buck Palace! Once I get around to reading this I will know the following:
 - how to address waiters
 - the correct way to eat oysters
 - which cutlery to use first
 - what is acceptable to eat with my fingers
 - what t do if someone chokes on a fishbone!

Ten Good Things on a Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Nina and Argh

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wedding Vows on a Stanza Saturday

I don't really have much of a poetry collection, but I did turn to poetry for my wedding vows last year, so I thought I'd share this one with you!

Yes, I'll marry you, my dear,

Pam Ayres

Yes, I'll marry you, my dear, and here's the reason why;
So 1 can push you out of bed when the baby starts to cry,
And if we hear a knocking and it's creepy and it's late,
I give you the torch you see, and you investigate.

Yes, I'll marry you, my dear, you may not apprehend it,
But when the tumbledrier goes it's you that has to mend it,
You have to face the neighbour should our labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me, it's you that has to whack him.

Yes, I'll marry you, my dear, and here's the reason why;
So 1 can push you out of bed when the baby starts to cry,
And if we hear a knocking and it's creepy and it's late,
I give you the torch you see, and you investigate.

Yes, I'll marry you, my dear, you may not apprehend it,
But when the tumbledrier goes it's you that has to mend it,
You have to face the neighbour should our labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me, it's you that has to whack him.

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear, you're handsome and you're strong,
And when I’m feeling poorly, you can serenade me with a song,
It's you who has to work the drill and put up  curtain track,
And when I've got the PMT it's you who gets the flak

I do see great advantages, but none of them for You,
And so before you see the light, I do, I do, I do!

 - Pam Ayres

Stanza Saturday is a weekly post, hosted by Denim-Jacket Librarian Dishes, to share poetry from either a home collection or from the library.  Find a book of poems, any poet will do, and open up to a random page and post the first poem you see.  If the poem is rather lengthy, feel free to post just the first stanza and be sure to include the poem's title, the book's title, and the poet. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: book-to-movie adaptations

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books  This week's question comes from Britta who blogs at I Like These Books:

"What book-to-movie adaptations have you most liked? Which have you disliked?"

This question has just made me realise how few books I've read and how many movies I've watched! Terrible!! I'll just have to go about changing that. In the meantime though, the book-to-movie adaptation that I have most liked (and feel I can actually comment on), would be:
Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
It was an absolutely beautiful book and an absolutely beautiful film. I thought they did the adaptation very well, although I was glad that I'd read the book first, just to get more out of the film - but then I think that's the key to a good adaptation!

Meanwhile, the book-to-movie adaptations that I've disliked... where do I begin?! 
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - terrible!
Q&A - the question and answers didn't add up, and they changed the relationship between the characters entirely!
And speaking of changing things entirely... My Sister's Keeper!!!!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Blomkvist was meant to have sex appeal!

But, rather than ending this little hop on a negative note, my list of movies that I have loved and that I am yet to read the book version of is nice and healthy too:
PS: I Love You (and what's more I've heard the book is better!)
Chocolate (great film... and the book is sitting on my shelf)
The Devil Wears Prada (love it!)
And yes.... Jane Austen's collection. I have to get around to reading these!

Book Beginnings...on a Friday

A little bit of fun on a Friday, this weekly meme is hosted by A Few More Pages
I'll share the first line (or two) of the book I'm currently reading (including the title and author) and let you know what my first impressions are - good or bad!

"The rain beat down hard on the tin roof of the caravan, nearly drowning out the hesitant tap-tapping of the type-writer keys. There was a faint smell in the air, not entirely unpleasant, a paint thinner mingled with the warm, rich scent of the forest in summer."
Emily Carr: The Incredible Life and Adventures of a West Coast Artist, Cat Klerks

I've been picking up and putting this book down for a month or so now and it's about high time I persevered. It's an introduction to Emily Carr, painter, author, artist of Victoria, BC. There are statues of her around town, you can visit her family home, and the Royal BC museum has exhibitions of her artwork - but I still don't know a thing about her, other than she had a pet monkey!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Library Loot

I'm slowly making my way through a pile of library books that seem to have scattered themselves around the house, but then I realised I hadn't actually shared my library loot with you all, so here's a glimpse at the pile!

The other week, I'd picked up Jeffery Archer's, The Fourth Estate, for husband - who read it in a matter of days. And upon completion, said to me - have you got any more? So, at the library what did I come across but...only I didn't look closely enough. This isn't the same Geoffrey Archer at all - how cheeky is that! I'm hoping many other people have fallen for the same thing... but it got me wondering... how many other authors are out there with similar names that you've stumbled across?
Husband has since finished this book by that other Geoffrey Archer and said it wasn't as good. He's back to the real one!

I also found a few books for myself. You won't be surprised to read that one of them ws a Jill Mansell. I would have started it immediately had my ordered copy of The Help not suddenly arrived on the same day, so for once Jill Mansell came second best... but only this once (and I've since finished it! surprise surprise).

Then there was The Secret Garden, calling to me. I've never read this classic so I thought it was about time I did - and while I was collecting children's stories I also came away with the first three books in the Little House on the Prairie series.

Another book that made it's way home with me is The Local News, by Miriam Gershow - the story of sibling relationships after a brother goes missing and the sister is suddenly thrown into the spotlight. I wasn't really looking for any new reads as such on this trip to the library, but this one captured my attention.

And finally, I also took out...

Yes, I am contemplating it. There is one here in October - slightly undecided at this stage, but October is less than 20 weeks away (did you know?) and that equates to... not much time! So we'll see.. after all, any time spent running would mean time away from the armchair and the books!

Theme Thursday

Theme ThursdaysTheme Thursdays is a fun weekly event, hosted by Reading Between Pagesthat will be open from one Thursday to the next. Anyone can participate in it. The rules are simple:

  • A theme will be posted each week (on Thursday’s)
  • Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you are reading
  • Mention the author and the title of the book along with your post
  • It is important that the theme is conveyed in the sentence (you don’t necessarily need to have the word)

This week's theme is "conversation"

"Ah, Davenport," he said, tapping the bench beside him. "Take a seat. You have an inquiring look on your face, so how may I assist you? 
Fletcher sat beside him. "I only wanted to ask your opinion on why the jury has been out for so long. Should I read anything into it?"
p177, Sons of Fortune, by Jeffrey Archer 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book #38: The Distant Hours

I thought I'd save this one for a holiday - it just had that kind of feel about it... but needless to say I couldn't wait that long! And anyway, it was probably too heavy a book to take on holiday. Best propped up on my knees in bed instead!

But after making my way through all 600+ pages of The Distant Hours, by Kate Morton, I was left wondering why it needed to be so long? A healthy 300 pages would have done. An interesting story about a strained relationship between mother and daughter, which becomes even more so when daughter finds mother has a secret from her childhood. Yet, as daughter goes about uncovering that secret, the relationship strengthens and a much tighter bond forms. Relatively predictable but still nice to have happen!

I just spent the entire time waiting for a real twist to occur in the book, but instead it was a little bit of a nothing ending unfortunately. And I got a bit frustrated with reading about every step our main character took. The pages were filled with descriptions of her thoughts, her movements, her conversations, her research - which meant there was very little left for the imagination.

I'm not sorry I read this, and I certainly didn't feel like it was a waste of time. In fact I did quite enjoy it  - even though the above description probably doesn't sound like it - and I LOVE the cover. I just think it was probably best saved as a holiday read. After all, one can still prop a book up on one's knees while lying on a sun lounger!

Armchair BEA: Awarding bloggers I love!

I'm relatively new to the blogging world. Yes I've known of its existence but much like my TBR pile, blogging was on my steadily increasing "To Do" pile. However, this year, I got around to joining it - and I'm glad I have. I'm a procrastinator by nature so blogging is the perfect activity for me, not to mention my nosiness of other people's lives, but then that comes with the territory of being a journalist!

No seriously, it's more than that. There are some incredibly talented people out there and the blog'o'sphere allows me an insight into their daily and weekly antics, whether it's reading, reviewing, baking, running or sewing!

So today is the perfect day to not only rave about some of the bloggers I've met during my first five months in the blogging world, it is also a day that I can reward them, with an award that was kindly given to me - and that I still have to pass on! (What was it I was saying about procrastination?!!!)

The Award
I was given this award by Talei at Musings of an Aspiring Scribe after meeting her during the April A-Z blogging challenge. She has a fabulous blog - beautiful writing, great quotes, and most of all a wicked sense of humour. Plus she resides in London so I can't help but love her recollections of that wonderful city!
Anyway, back to this award. It required me to reveal seven interesting facts about myself - you can view these here - and also to pass it on to 15 other well-deserving bloggers (that part I have been procrastinating on!) But no longer... so with much hype and fanfare, I pass on the Versatile Blogger award to these fellow bloggers who have inspired me during my introduction into the blogging world!

These were my favourite blogs that I first came across and all have remained firm favourites!

I came across a few other newbies when I first started out and have watched their foray into the blogging world with much wonder:

These two help me to start - and end the week. I look forward to Monday's just as much as I do Fridays!

And no blogging session is complete without a quick squizz at these ones:

Right - now it's back to the armchair!

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three questions: 

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading? 
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading? Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro... and it is weird! It's not a book you can easily pick up and put down - more one you need to read in one go, so you're completely absorbed in it and are able to understand the world in which the book is set. But it's certainly a different read!

What did you recently finish reading? I finished reading The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. I just couldn't drag it out any more. Now I can't wait for the movie to come out! I've also finished my collection of short stories The Elegy for Easterly, by Petina Grappah.

What do you think you’ll read next? I've actually been thinking a lot about this lately, not sure why. Could be after a discussion with a friend where she mentioned a whole lot of really well known books that I simply hadn't read: Room, The Memory Keepers Daughter... so I'm thinking I might need to do a blitz of books I ought really to have read - and that includes The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables. I'm also looking for another short story collection to read over my breakfast bowl in the morning - oh so many books, so little time!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Armchair BEA: Best books I've read in 2011

This is the first year I've ever kept track of the books I've read. Despite loving, buying, gathering, hoarding - whatever you want to call it - books, I've never recorded what I've read, where, or why!

I started keeping a record one summer when I was going to read the "A-Z of Chicklit" but after I got to about D I needed another genre, so that was the end of that! But, having joined the blogging world and given myself the challenge of reading 111 books in the year 2011, it means I can actually answer the question:

What are the best books I've read so far this year?
(The links go through to my reviews if you're interested)

1. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson:
Definitely right up there! And I've since watched the movie which I thought was just as stunning as the book.

2. The Saffron Gate, by Linda Holeman
This one left me longing to return to Morocco. Although the main character annoyed me somewhat, just the descriptions of Morocco bought back wonderful memories of one of my favourite countries!

3. A Cup of Tea, by Amy Ephron
This one captured me instantly, so much so, I'd read it before even getting to the checkout desk at the library. I then subsequently devoured Ephron's other books, One Sunday Morning and White Rose (Una Rosa Blanca).

4. The Cry of the Go-Away Bird, by Andrea Eames
This book was really interesting. Set in Zimbabwe from the point of view of a 12-year-old white girl, under the rule of Mugabe! One of those books that really enriches you and makes you wonder why you bother with chicklit!

5. Jill Mansell
Speaking of chicklit - I've read a fair few Jill Mansell this year and loved every one of them. Her writing is so much fun, the stories are lighthearted with tricks and turns but happy endings and I just love each and every cover!

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
--Grab your current read
--Open to a random page
--share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
Be sure NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
--Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

"You could go around implying you'd read all kinds of things, nodding knowingly when someone mentioned, say, War and Peace, and the understanding was that no one would scrutinise your claim too rationally. You have to remember, since we'd been in each other's company constantly since arriving at the Cottages it wasn't possible for any of us to have read War and Peace without the rest noticing."
p121, Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro