H is for holiday reading

Posted: Jul 19th 2017, 11:27pm By: Anne


We're off to France in the next week or so and I am just about to gather together my holiday reading. We're going by car so I can pack as many books as I want as well as my trusty Kindle. It has been fun choosing what to read and I was reminded of my trip to Rome and the blog I wrote about what I read there - I hope to have as many good reading experiences as I obviously had on that holiday !

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I have just returned from a few days away and, when packing, was faced with the usual holiday reading dilemma – how many books to take and which ones should they be ? I was going abroad so I definitely needed to be sure that I packed enough volumes as new books might be hard to obtain in English if I r ...

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G is for gender in books and publishing

Posted: Jul 15th 2017, 9:48pm By: Anne


In 2016 64% of the books I read were by female authors - I made quite a good guess when I originally wrote this blog in 2015 !

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It is pretty well established that the publishing and literary world is sexist. If you look at the number of number of books published by male and female writers, the gender of the winners of literary awards, the number of women in senior positions in publishing houses and even the numbers of reviews of books by women in literary publications (and the number of reviewers who are women) it all points to the same conclusion. Women have fewer opportunities and less power than men in the book world (and elsewhere too, of course, but I’m not blogging about that here).

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G is for good and great books

Posted: Jul 12th 2017, 10:47pm By: Anne


I originally wrote the blog below about a year ago. Looking at it again I feel that my definitions are still solid for me but I would say that I now read more "good" books and that fewer of them are classics than I originally supposed.

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There is nothing like reading a good book. But how do we define what a good book is ? We probably each have our own views and I suspect that if we discussed them we would have some differences of opinion about the definition. My fellow blogger, Debra, gave her view in a recent blog and she feels (not to put words in her mouth) that a good book is one which you enjoy. Whilst I agree I would also like to take her simple explanation and make it more complicated be ...

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G is for Good and Evil and the area that lies between

Posted: Jul 10th 2017, 10:29pm By: Anne


This blog was originally posted over a year ago

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The never ending struggle between good and evil is the basis of much of our mythology and theology as well as the foundation of some excellent fiction. In fact, some genres are almost entirely concerned with it. It’s an attractive idea to work with as you can set up confrontation and then play with great peril for your characters whilst your reader is pretty sure that right will prevail, despite probably some death, treachery and self-sacrifice along the way.

The epic fantasy genre (think “Lord of the Rings”) is where we see this theme most often used. Early books in the genre were quite straightforward and the evil characters ...

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Michael Bond

Posted: Jun 28th 2017, 3:24pm By: Debra Found


It is with great sadness that I heard of the death of Michael Bond. His well loved creation, Paddington Bear, was a part of my childhood. I know he created other characters but it was Paddington I loved.

I was fortunate enough to have several Paddington Bear books from quite a young age and the library provided the rest. I loved them. They were fun in a very innocent sort of way.

Then along came the TV series. They were just short little episodes which were created in a sort of two-dimensional drawing style. Michael Hordern provided the somewhat dour and very straight faced sounding voice to accompany Paddington's antics. I must have been around 7 or 8 when they started and they were a perfect addition to the books. The series and the books went hand in hand.

Paddington remained one of ...

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G is for guilty pleasures - books you might be ashamed of reading

Posted: Jun 21st 2017, 5:16pm By: Anne


Since I first wrote this blog which I am republishing here I have acquired a taste for Regency romances - I'm not ashamed of that either !!

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To call something a guilty pleasure implies that there is something sinful about it – that perhaps it is not entirely good for you. For someone on a diet a guilty pleasure would be a cake or some chocolate; something too small to completely eradicate the effect of the diet but something that might have a minor effect and which shouldn’t really be eaten in the circumstances.

Sometimes people refer to a type of reading that they undertake as a guilty pleasure. They are thinking of a type of reading which they think isn’t really serious and is some ...

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F is for Five ways to fit more reading into your life

Posted: Jun 14th 2017, 9:59pm By: Anne


I read a lot of books - here are my handy tips (first published last year) on how to fit more reading into a busy life ..

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Quite often when people hear that I read a lot they tell me that they don’t know when I find time for so much reading. Sometimes they say it in such a way that they imply that if I am doing that much reading there is something important that I am not doing – they could well have a point ! But it is true that with busy lives we all have to make choices about what we do in our limited free time and I prioritise books and reading ahead of other choices.

I do think, however, that people have a tendency to find time to do what is really important in their lives a ...

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F is for the first line of books and its importance (or otherwise)

Posted: Jun 10th 2017, 8:32pm By: Anne


I first wrote this blog about a year ago and it still holds true - I am still just about to write that blog on prologues !

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that any discussion about the first lines of novels will include a quotation from Jane Austen – and there it is. The first line of “Pride and Prejudice” is probably recognised by more people than have read the book and the same applies to other well known first lines. Every Christmas there are an abundance of literary quizzes which often include one requiring you to identify the first line of well known novels and I am very good at this despite not having read many of the books from which the quotations are taken.

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F is for feisty females and other tired stereotypes we can do without

Posted: Jun 7th 2017, 10:22pm By: Anne


This impassioned plea for novelty and innovation was originally written over a year ago. I might add a few more stereotypes and themes to the list of those I am tired of but the message of the blog still holds true.

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If I never see the adjective “feisty” applied to a woman again in a book it will be too soon. I also include in this abhorrence the associated descriptions of “spitfire” and “crackerjack” which you see in American novels. It’s not the words particularly that are the problem but the fact that the so-called feisty female is one of those stereotypes which pop up in novels with sad regularity. As soon as our heroine is described in this way you know that she will speak he ...

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D is for the "Da Vinci Code" effect

Posted: Jun 5th 2017, 10:08pm By: Anne


Since this blog was first published over a year ago we have had "Girl on the Train" to add to the list which I think was very much influenced by "Gone Girl" - I wonder what will be next. Whatever it is I can guarantee that in a few year's time it will be filling the charity shops with used and unwanted copies !!

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There are some books which just seem to catch the public imagination and to become part of our popular culture. There are fewer of them than there are films which do the same thing but when it does happen it can become quite an amazing phenomenon.

Examples recently of books which achieved this feat include the Harry Potter series which has been by far the greatest example ...

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D is for disability and its underrepresentation in novels

Posted: May 22nd 2017, 9:46pm By: Anne


I would add to this republished blog JoJo Moyes book "Me Before You" - a book that annoyed me so much I had to skim read the second half. That is a book about a man with a disability in which every other character has a narrative voice except the man with the disability - and the story revolves around him. I rest my case ..

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About one in four people in Britain have an impairment which amounts to a disability. This includes all manner of different conditions from deafness to eczema, from cystic fibrosis to learning difficulties, facial disfiguration to heart conditions, from mental health conditions to diabetes, and many more. This would seem to suggest that, therefore, one in four characters ...

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D is for Did not finish and why

Posted: May 20th 2017, 11:39pm By: Anne


I find that I am more and more likely to give up on books as I grow older and I have made my peace with the inner voice that tells me that I am a quitter ! Here is a blog I wrote over a year ago which is still true

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Once upon a time I always finished books. I read each page to the bitter end whether or not I was enjoying it. I regarded books as tasks and felt that somehow I had failed if I didn’t get all the way to the end. Other people have told me the same – that if they start a book they always finish it.

Well, I am delighted to find that I have changed. I am not sure when it happened, and maybe it was a gradual process but I realised that life was too short to invest time i ...

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E is for electronic reading - I love my Kindle(s)

Posted: May 17th 2017, 9:39pm By: Anne


Last year about half my reading was done electronically and that pattern appears to be continuing this year - this republished blog still seems to reflect the situation as I see it.

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There are people around who swear that once upon a time I said that I would never buy an e-reader because of my love for paper books. I am sure that I never said this but even if I did my opinion changed completely the day that I got my first Kindle. I have been an enthusiast for electronic reading ever since.

Whether or not you have succumbed to the lure of electronic reading you cannot deny that it has changed the reading world and every month or so there seems to be an innovation which adds a new twist ...

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C is for classics and why I think they can put people off books

Posted: May 15th 2017, 11:05pm By: Anne


Having had to check the current exam syllabus for English I despair at what we are making our young people read at 14, 15 and 16. Unless they are enthusiastic readers you are risking put them off books for life by the irrelevance of the choices to their every day life. I wrote the bog below some time ago but it still reflects my views ...

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A classic is a book that has stood the test of time – often they are Victorian novels. Authors of these novels include Charles Dickens, George Elliot, Thomas Hardy, Mrs Gaskell, Sir Walter Scott, the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen. We hold classic novels up as the best written in the history of books and they feature in school and university courses. There is ...

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C is for cosy crime - but how can crime be cosy ?

Posted: May 13th 2017, 5:58pm By: Anne


I have lots of friends who enjoy crime fiction. One especially loves gritty and realistic crime (Ian Rankin and his ilk) but most prefer their crime on the cosier side. I wrote this blog some time ago but I still struggle at the idea of using the death of people as entertainment whilst greatly enjoying the type of books that are encompassed in this genre.

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Cosy crime is the name we give to a sub-genre of suspense and mystery novels and it is a very strange area of writing.

A cosy crime novel will always feature a murder but the crime will very much be seen as a puzzle rather than a brutal act and the book will not dwell on the gory elements of death. The meat of the story will be in the ...

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C is for cover art and how it gives a clue to the contents of the story

Posted: May 10th 2017, 7:01pm By: Anne


I wrote these musings about cover art for books some time ago but I do think that they still hold true

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Someone on Twitter recently pointed out that when you look at covers of books published recently they often portray only part of a woman or their silhouette. I had a look at books currently for sale and was astonished to discover that, on the whole, this was true. There are many novels featuring half a woman on their cover, or only their eyes or feet, or the distant shape of one, or one pictured with their back to the reader. The only novels which seem to feature whole women are historical romances where they are usually in an embrace with a handsome man.

A cover has been the w ...

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C is for Christmas books whatever time of year it is

Posted: May 8th 2017, 9:48pm By: Anne


I originally wrote this blog over a year ago - there seem to be more Christmas books now than there were then !

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It may seem to you that it is only the middle of the year but I can tell you that Christmas is coming – and it is coming soon. I deduce this by the number of advance copies of Christmas books that I am now starting to be offered and which I am usually refusing as I cannot find myself in a Christmassy frame of mind whilst I am still holding out hope that we will have some sort of a summer this year.

Christmas books are an interesting phenomenon and one that I had quite a lot of exposure to last year because I opted to review a number of titles based on the time of year ...

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C is for cupcakes and why I am sick of them

Posted: May 6th 2017, 1:54pm By: Anne


I originally wrote this blog over a year ago - I don't think that anything has changed in the world of romantic and "women's" fiction - sadly ....

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I have nothing against cupcakes or cake in general but the increasing presence of them in (mostly romantic) fiction is beginning to disturb me. It is not the actual presence of the cake related item that is the problem but the fact that more and more often the main female character is making her living from making and selling cake, cupcakes, gingerbread or other sweet items – think of the number of recently published titles about cake shops in unlikely places, sweetshops, chocolate products or cafes. There is nothing wrong with any of these bo ...

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C is for culling books and why I am so bad at it

Posted: May 3rd 2017, 5:29pm By: Anne


I am republishing this blog about how I intend to cull my book collection and why I find it difficult - the situation has not got any better in the two years since this was originally posted and I may well have replaced the books I got rid of and even added more. Let's look on it as a lifelong task !

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Although I frequently tell people, as I stagger in with the latest finds from a charity shop hunt, that you can’t have too many books this is, in fact, not always true. There comes a time when you have to look through those that you own and weed out the weak – you have to cull your book collection.

This happened to me a year or so ago. I live in a moderately large house with p ...

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B is for Banned Books

Posted: May 1st 2017, 6:33pm By: Anne


Here is a republished blog from two years ago about banned books. This is still an issue in many parts of the world

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From the creation of the printed word people have seen it as dangerous and consequently books have been banned from publication and from circulation. It’s something that is so prevalent even in today’s society that there is a Banned Books week each year, organised from America.

I have to say that I thought originally when planning this blog that banned books would affect me only in a wider sense, as a moral issue, rather than impacting on me personally – I’m not a great reader of cutting edge books. I then ...

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