Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas!


To all of you who celebrate Christmas… Merry Christmas!

I hope that everyone receives plenty of books and book tokens and has a wonderful day wherever you are in the world.

Blog hugs! Love you all xxx

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Literary Blog Hop 2-5 December


What is one of your literary pet peeves?  Is there something that writers do that really sets your teeth on edge?  Be specific, and give examples if you can.


I’ve seen the Literary Blog Hop in passing before, but seeing as I’m getting back onto the blogging bandwagon, I thought I’d join in and participate in something new.

I hope my blog is covered by the ‘literary’ blog hop as I have never done this one before… I read a wide range and so mine fits into both literary and non-literary, and rather depends on the mood I’m in at the time.

It’s a hard question actually as I tend to try and concentrate on the positives and if the book is good enough, little peeves sink into the background. If the book is full of peeves, I will throw the thing over my shoulder and move onto something new.

There are a few things that do press my buttons.

1. Pseudo Literary

Pseudo literary books are those whose author’s think they’re really good, beautifully written, significant works of art – when they are in fact a load of complete and utter tripe from the paint by numbers category. Example: The Lovely Bones. Sebold’s overuse of horrific similes and metaphors – such as buttering bread with tears and eyes popping out like olives. I like fiction to be honest – an author should do what they do best.

Which takes me onto…

2. Similes and Metaphors

In my opinion these should be left subtle, slipped in and natural. They should not stand out like a sore thumb. Not everything is like something else. Sometimes when you bleed, you just bleed. It does not exit your veins like a firework or a blossoming flower, or however Kate Mosse described it in Labyrinth. It doesn’t add anything to the imagery or my imagination.

It’s kind of a personal peeve – some authors seem to be able to do it a lot and do it well, some people just cannot. Once again, I think authors should stick to what they do best and stop trying too hard.

3. No Chapters

I like chapters. I like knowing when to take a break and if I’ll have time to read on. It’s more organised. Some books do just start on a new page but have no chapter heading – that is okay, but it is when they have nothing but perhaps your usual space between text. I also really don’t like fiction books that have long chapters split up into mini-chapters. I don’t get the point in that.

The above three are my main peeves about the writing or construction of the story itself, I have others like rambling passages and pointless character development that doesn’t develop anywhere… but I don’t want to go on for a year and a day boring you with every min-peeve of mine. (I am a grumpy old beak.)

The following peeves aren’t so much about the writing, but the construction of the book – because I need to get these off my chest.

4. The Printed Text Itself

a) I do not like when there are double spaces between each line, usually with fairly short books. Am I being tricked into thinking a short story is longer? I find it very hard to physically read anyway. It is like both my eyes go in opposite directions and the sentences just disappear off the page.

b) Blurry, bold print that makes me squint. I think that as a reader, I shouldn’t be spending half my concentration just trying to process the word visually.

c) Shoddily put together books that fall apart at the flick of a page. If I’m going to pay £7.99 for a new book, (and heaven knows how much more after the VAT goes up to 20%), I at least expect the book not to disintegrate onto my face in bed as I read it. Penguin Classics are the most expensive, with the flimsiest paper quality and they usually fall apart before anyone else.

d) Books that lack descriptions of what it is about, even a hint but consist of over-zealous praise of the author’s past work. I am not going to buy it, or read it or ever pick it up unless I know what it is about.

e) When so called ‘introductions’ do not warn of spoilers to people who are unaware that introductions shouldn’t be read until the end – and when the first sentence contains a clanger of a spoiler. This happened to me with Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, Vintage classic with Monica Ali writing the intro.

f) Books that are claimed by publishers to be ‘just like [insert name of really well known classic here]’ because most of the time they aren’t and even if they are – if someone told me that so-and-so book is good as Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.

So, those are my pet peeves. Authors and publishers, beware – I am not the forgiving type! What peeves you off when you read a book?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Has She Flown the Coop?

No, here I am.

I took a long and entirely unexpected break from blogging – well not just blogging specifically but basically the online social scene on a whole. I’m not going to go into it for personal reasons, but I think I just needed a break and to draw together the fragments of my brain. I haven’t been reading much in the last few months and I haven’t even been updating my spreadsheet either. Horror. I would call it a complete reading funk and in a way, a loss of confidence in my self. I didn’t feel like communicating in the written form for a long while.

However – I’ve decided that enough is enough – no more faffing around moaning all the time. Time to get back into books, back into blogging and just back to normality really. I have also been trying (and failing) to correct my ridiculous sleep pattern. For the past five years I’ve been trying to live in multiple time zones, which I can tell you – does not lead to a healthy lifestyle.

Anyway, enough of that… let’s just look back and see what I’ve read since I last updated this poor dusty blog in September…

Well, there was -

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian which I actually read for Unputdownables Book Swap and should have posted a review back in September which I feel to no end, quite guilty about.

The New Jackals by Simon Reeve – a Non-Fiction book about Ramzi Yousef and Osma Bin Laden, written before the 9/11 attacks and so kind of spooky.

Irresistible by Mary Balogh which was a historical romance of the entirely cheesey sort and I admit… I really enjoyed it!

Otherland: City of the Golden Shadow (Book 1) by Tad Williams – a sci-fi which took me a month to read but it was really very good. It had been on my TBR for over ten years so I’m glad to finally be able to say I’ve read it.

The Hidden Roads: A Memoir of Childhood by Kevin Crossley Holland who is one of my favourite YA authors.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks which I didn’t think was as good as Year of Wonders by the same author.

and finally…

The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor the book I have been wanting to read for ages and ages and finally managed to get through the library.

I have also acquired a horrific amount of books during this period, I have no idea what my TBR looks like now as I have not updated it. In fact, I can’t even remember what I have bought apart from the fact that I have no room for any of them whatsoever and they have been growing up in precarious piles all over the place. I don’t know what to do with them.

I shall try my best to review some of those books which I think are really worth reading. Also I would like to say – that I really want to change the way I review books, in relation to the rating. The more I think of it, the more inadequate giving a book a star rating seems to be. It just doesn’t cover it. Yet I still want to be able to give some indication as to how much I liked a book and how much I’d recommend it.

Aaaaaaaanyway… I decided I should do a… vlog. Yes. Unfortunately my webcam doesn’t have a mic so hah, I can’t talk. So instead I filmed myself reading my current book Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris by Ian Kershaw. Yes, yes, I know – very festive.

So, here is almost twenty minutes of looking at the top of my head, watching me read a book. It is very boring I admit, probably the most boring vlog out there, in fact I can hardly call it a vlog really because I only did it because I was curious what I looked like when I’m just doing normal things like reading. I keep looking up to see how long it’s been filming for, and to reply to messages on Facebook. Other then that it is the top of my head bobbing up and down.

I suspect none of you are going to sit around for twenty minutes looking at my crooked parting – but I guess this is the question – what do you do when you read? I am usually in front of my laptop because if I sit anywhere more comfortable I fall asleep.

I hope all of you are well, and for those celebrating Christmas that you’re having a good festive season and got all your presents together!


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