My Alphabet Reading Challenge - B

Posted: Jul 19th 2018, 11:46am By: Anne


The second book in my new alphabet challenge is “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde. It is a long poem and I read it in a version illustrated by Peter Hay and as the illustrations are very much part of the reading experience I am reviewing them as well.

The author obviously had experience of the prison system having been jailed for sodomy following a disastrous attempt to sue the Marquis of Queensberry for libel. It is a difficult time in the author’s life and I advise you to read a good biography to unpick it and understand all the issues. We do know, however, that this poem is written from first-hand experience.

The poem is written in a simple rhyming style and metre but that hides the fact that it deals with an incredibly difficult subject matter. The poem is actually quite des ...

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smrc - books 5 & 6 (e & f)

Posted: Jul 16th 2018, 9:28am By: Sara Eames


The fifth book in my reading challenge - letter E - was going to be The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker. This was another author that I had not tried before and, for a change, a different genre to those I have read thus far in this reading challenge. Unfortunately, I could not finish the book. After 100 pages or so of depression and awful characters with whom I have little or no sympathy, I had to give up. I no longer force myself to finish a book that I am not enjoying.

So, as I wanted to continue with my alphabet challenge, I returned to my bookshelves in search of another book beginning with the letter E. Once there, I quickly located Emma by Alexander McCall Smith - The Austen Project #3 - and decided to give this a try - chiefly because if suited the challenge I was pursui ...

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My Alphabet reading challenge - A

Posted: Jul 11th 2018, 11:03pm By: Anne


I was first introduced to the American novelist Curtis Sittenfeld with her book “Sisterland” which has been reviewed on this site; I can’t now remember where I got it from. I liked it but not enough to obsessively track down the rest of her novels and read those (something I have a tendency to do with authors). The second of her books I read was “Eligible” which is a modern rewriting of “Pride and Prejudice” and is part of a series of modern Austen rewrites (although that seems to have stalled with a couple of the titles not being tackled – maybe I am the only one who read them all ?). I loved “Eligible” (reviewed on this site) and so I then went on to read “Prep” which I didn’t enjoy as much mainly because the main character is so irritating.

For this challenge I chose “A ...

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smrc - Book 4 (D)

Posted: Jul 9th 2018, 9:20am By: Sara Eames


I am now four books into my alphabet challenge, still reading cosy mysteries. D is for Drink of Deadly Wine, A by Kate Charles. I hadn't realised that there were so many cosies on my shelf - until I checked my smrc reading list. However, not all 26 books are cosies, so there will be some variety in future posts.

With regard to the book, I had never come across the author before but I am glad I decided to read one of her books. I will, almost certainly, bread more of Kate Charles's books. This is a cosy mystery which is very well written. The characters are believable and the plot moves at a steady pace. I did not guess whodunit but the solution was credible. I had a lot of sympathy for Gabriel, David and Emily. Some of the minor characters veered very close to being caricatures but th ...

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SMRC - Book 3 (C)

Posted: Jul 6th 2018, 2:19pm By: Sara Eames


Book C is Crooked Herring by L C Tyler. An easy read that I expected to get through quite quickly. Fortunately, I have had extra reading time today, as the school I work at is closed due to having no water - so I took full advantage of the time and got reading. I will be starting my D book very soon (and have quite a bit of the weekend to spend reading it).

As for Crooked Herring, I love the Elsie and Ethelred series by L C Tyler - and this is another winner. It is a well-written book with good characters, a steady plot and some laughs along the way. As is the case with all these books, the murder and solution are outrageous - but that doesn't detract in any way from the quality of the story and writing. The main characters are, as always, wonderfully written - and the side characters ...

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SMRC - Book 2 (B)

Posted: Jul 5th 2018, 9:20am By: Sara Eames


I have now successfully completed my 2nd book in the smrc. This was another cosy mystery - I am aware that my first 4 books are cosy mysteries (one of my favourite genres) but there are other genres as we progress through the alphabet.

This is my second foray into the world of Inspector Singh, and it wasn't too bad. On the whole, it was a good, cosy mystery - the characters were well-written and the plot moves at a steady pace building to a climatic finale. However, I didn't like the ending as it ends on a somewhat downward note. It was, on the whole, an enjoyable read but did have a number of stereotypes portrayed which I found a little annoying at times - especially as the stereotypical behaviour increased towards the end of the book. Still, it was a good read and I will probably read ...

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My Alphabet reading challenge - introduction

Posted: Jul 2nd 2018, 10:52pm By: Anne


Last year I read 26 books which had titles beginning with each of the letters of the alphabet in order. I very much enjoyed doing this and it certainly adds some variety to the normal reading diet. Having still got one book starting with X on my shelves I thought I might do this again if I could find the other 25. Actually, it wasn’t as hard as you might think and the list is made up of books I had on my to-be-read list, which were on my shelves and I had wanted to read for some time, or were bought specially for the occasion from my wish list.

I see that my fellow blogger Sara is doing the same thing – it will be interesting to see if any of our choices are the same but I am not going to list mine now …. You can wait and see …….

The books I will be reading are certainly an interesti ...

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Summer mini-reading challenge - book one

Posted: Jul 2nd 2018, 9:27am By: Sara Eames


So, yesterday was day one of the summer mini-reading challenge (smrc). Dutifully at 3pm (approx), I rang my daughter Heather Eames (who is also participating in the challenge with me - but with her own list of books) and announced the official beginning of the smrc. My 1st book was All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark. I was fairly certain of what to expect from this author, as I have read many of her books previously - and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

My review of the book: Another good story from Mary Higgins Clark. As is usual, it was fairly obvious who the culprit was - but that does not detract from an excellent story. The characters are well-written and the plot moves at a steady pace. This is a quick, easy book to read - mainly because the chapters are so short (some are on ...

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My June reading - taking stock now we are half way through the year

Posted: Jul 1st 2018, 12:59pm By: Anne


We’ve reached half way through the year and it is time to take stock of my reading. During June I read 37 books, the majority of which I read on my Kindle although I did get three audio-books finished. Only five of those books were written by male authors which is not a deliberate choice but maybe reflects the books I currently enjoy reading.

I have now read 187 books this year which if we project forward seems to indicate that I will read in the region of 370 books for the year. That will be unusual because for the past nine years I have read over 400 books each year and on two of those years I actually read over 500 (I wasn’t working full-time in those years !). It will be interesting to see if I manage to reach 400.

I am aware that I read more books than the average reader but the number ...

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Summer mini-reading challenge - the books

Posted: Jun 22nd 2018, 12:00pm By: Sara Eames


Here, as promised, is a list of the books I am hoping to read between 1st July and 31st August. I will post a blog every so often to let you know how I am doing. Should anyone want to join me on this challenge, please feel free - and let me know how it's going for you...

Anyway, here are the books:

A - All by Myself, Alone - Mary Higgins Clark

B - Bali Conspiracy Most Foul, A - Shamani Flint

C - Crooked Herring - L C Tyler

D - Drink of Deadly Wine, A - Kate Charles

E - End of the World Running Club, The - A J Walker

F - Five Get Gran On-line - Bruno Vincent

G - Ghosts - Adrian Plass

H - Hag-seed - Margaret Atwood

I - In This Grave Hour - Jacqueline Winspear

J - Janus Stone, The - Elly Griffiths

K - Killing in the Cafe, The - S ...

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Summer mini-reading challenge

Posted: Jun 5th 2018, 3:28pm By: Sara Eames


Having explored my TBR shelves, I have discovered that I have a book title for each letter of the alphabet (if you ignore the words "the" and "a"). So, I am setting myself a mini-challenge. From 1st July to 31st Aug, I intend to read the 26 books from A to Z. I will put my titles on this blog in the middle of June and update as I complete each book. This will reduce the books on my TBR shelves and should be a bit of fun.

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My May reading - sharing my passion for books with others

Posted: Jun 3rd 2018, 1:08pm By: Anne


May was a month in which I talked about books a lot. Actually, I often talk about books but the month had more opportunities than usual to share my passions with others. Early in the month I had an opportunity to meet an old friend (the friendship is old, not the friend) Wendy for coffee and pass on to her a couple of books I thought she would like. Wendy works occasionally in a community library so we had lots to talk about. Later on in the month I met our erstwhile reviewer Sara for a great morning of charity shop book buying and talk about books – we like a lot of the same books so we had a great time together and I was able to pass on to her a bag of books I have been saving since the last time we met that I thought she would like. I have also passed on a bag of books to my mother in law and another ...

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K is for kissing or killing, the attraction of romantic suspense

Posted: May 12th 2018, 6:00pm By: Anne


I don’t really believe that any books are “guilty pleasures” and I really don’t believe that you should have to apologise for anything that you read. But it is true that I don’t always bring into the open my attraction for romantic suspense novels.

A romantic suspense novel is a romance associated with a suspense story or conversely a suspense story with a romance attached. A lot of romance readers don’t like them because the suspense element gets in the way of the love story and a lot of suspense readers feel that the love story gets in the way of the suspense building up. The genre is a hybrid and different books prioritise the different elements. As I enjoy both suspense and romance it is the ideal mixture for me.

A typical romantic suspense novel has a woman in peril because she ...

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My April Reading - lots of novels (some of them very long)

Posted: May 1st 2018, 11:36pm By: Anne


April was a month of showers, sudden sun, snow and many books – 30 in total for the month.

It also included my 100th book read of the year to date. This was “A Stranger in the House” by Shari Lapena. It is a psychological mystery with lots of turns and twists. The plot is well done and I certainly didn’t work out everything that was happening but like “Gone Girl” I thought that the author sacrificed characterisation for cleverness so I didn’t engage as much as I could have. I borrowed this book from my sister in law and it was fine but if I ever get to review it I shall only award it three stars. If I had realised that it was going to be my one hundredth I might have chosen something more meaty or worthy.

The theme for April seems to have been literary fiction. By that I mean nove ...

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K is for Klingon and other made up languages

Posted: Apr 18th 2018, 10:05pm By: Anne


I love fantasy novels. In the past I read an enormous amount of epic fantasy series although now my attention has turned more to urban fantasy and alightly shorter books. I have also especially enjoyed those where the author has invented whole new worlds, and even better if they have provided a map !. Many of these are based on Medieval England but there are also some which use different historical periods and backgrounds as a base for their world building (Guy Gavriel Kay has books based on China and the Eastern Mediterranean, JK Jemison’s novel are based on Egyptian history, as just two examples).

What an author does need to do, however, in order to make that world seem real to us is to create a whole new language and naming structure which sounds alien to us but which is readable and consistent ...

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My March reading - features a lot of strong women characters

Posted: Apr 3rd 2018, 4:35pm By: Anne


March included a week’s holiday from work and a few days off because of the snow. The holiday was good but the snow days less so. I did think that I might have read more in the month because of these two factors but, in fact, I read a round 30 books this month which is more or less average for me.

I read nearly twice as many on my Kindle as I did in print form which is almost certainly because we went abroad for the holiday. Print books are heavy and so I don’t take many away with me although, of course, I always need a couple for reading on take-off and landing as the airlines still think that my puny Kindle is going to destroy the whole plane as its evil words infiltrate the electronics.

I read two audiobooks for the month which is the same as usual – they were both pretty long ones whi ...

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My February Reading - mainly historical novels

Posted: Feb 28th 2018, 4:17pm By: Anne


We are at the end of February and the month finishes for me with an unexpected day off work due to the snow. This gives me time to review my books read in the month of which there are 33 (although I might just get to the end of another one later this evening). This excellent total for the month has been helped along by the half-term holiday which I took off work but stayed at home for and which allowed me a lot more reading time than usual.

Looking at the books I have read I am amused at how many have historical settings. Given that I used to avoid historical novels I have obviously been well and truly converted. Here are a few this month which I enjoyed – they are by no means all new publications so you should be able to get cheap copies if you find any attractive :

• “The Essex Serpent ...

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My January Reading - a variety of novels with an emphasis on crime

Posted: Feb 1st 2018, 9:52pm By: Anne


January has been a cold, grey month with added ice and snow – not particularly exciting. I haven’t done a huge amount of interesting things but I have read a number of interesting books; 27 in total. They have been of a variety of genres with about one third being crime novels and five being non-fiction. That is reasonably normal for me as I read a lot of crime novels in and amongst the other types and I am trying to read more non-fiction. The majority of my reading was electronic but I did read eleven paper books and two audio books (yes, listening to books on audio is reading).

I was amused to see that most of the books I read and virtually all of the crime novels were part of series; I particularly enjoy series novels as I like to follow the same characters through various adventures and feel ...

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J is for journeys - an everpresent theme in novels

Posted: Jan 17th 2018, 10:56pm By: Anne


I remember once having to write and essay about how all fiction is a journey. I can’t remember now how well I did with my answer but I must admit that as time as gone on I have become more and more aware of the truth of this.

A lot of books contain physical journeys, many of which are quests. Think of “Lord of the Rings”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, and many, many epic fantasy novels. Get a group of people together (or gather a group as you go), head off into a new world or a land unknown to the travellers and you have an instant plot, full of challenges to overcome and unexpected dangers. Each person contributes skills, has an issue and sometimes one will betray them.

Many books contain journeys which are important to the plot to move the characters to a new environment even thought that ...

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My reading life - what I read in 2017 and aims for 2018

Posted: Jan 1st 2018, 12:52pm By: Anne


2017 was an excellent year for reading for me. I read 408 books in the year which is not as many as I have in previous years but still an impressive number ! I mostly accomplished this by doing little else apart from reading, reviewing and blogging and spending most of my evenings and weekends with my nose between the pages. I didn’t participate in any book challenges during the year so the books were mostly my choice based on preference and recommendations.

I read a variety of different genres and stretched myself l little more than usual. I finally got seriously into historical novels and have read those by Karen Maitland and Hilary Mantel among others. I have also spent a lot of time reading Regency romances for which I have acquired a taste – they are great, escapist reading.

21% of th ...

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