Friday 31 December 2010

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011

Just a couple of hour until a whole fresh New Year unfolds before us (in the UK anyway, some of you are already there) 2010 has been a bit of a blur for me, getting used to being a mum, dealing with the million and one appointments we have for Monkey as she has some health issues, going back to work after a year off...

I was sat here trying to remember the big news stories of the year and I'm at a bit of a loss to be honest. We got a new Government, an exciting coalition, a bit of a novelty here even if plenty of other places in Europe manage it ok. For the first time we even had Amerian style debates with all the leaders. The novelty of having a coalition government was soon replaced by dread, waiting to hear about swingeing cuts. Que sera, sera and all that, there's a lot more in life (well, mine at least) to worry about than 2.5% extra VAT (coming to retailers near us very soon) and now we've voted them in we're stuck with them for a bit.

Then there were the Commonwealth games, and the shambles surrounding the organisation. I love sport and can't wait for 2012, I'm hoping to get some tickets so I can see some of it live. The football World Cup was so dire for England I shall say no more!

Last month we had the exciting news of the royal wedding (to be read with a hint of sarcasm) It'll be nice to see Wills and Kate wed, and for us to get an extra bank holiday. I was more pleased to hear another of the Queen's grandhildren, Zara Philips, got engaged this month. Princess Anne's branch of the tree is so much more low key and dignified, and I'm not sure that's all because of who the press decide are worthy of attention.

As I can't remember a lot more of 2010 than that I guess it's easier to look ahead to 2011 and wonder what it will bring. No new years resolutions for me, I just feel guilty when I break them. Now I am going to sit and enjoy the dying hours of this year, and will just wish you all a very Happy 2011 x

Sunday 26 December 2010

Book Review: Being Light by Helen Smith

Roy Travers is helping his friend put up a bouncy castle for a fun day when he gets blown away aboard it and disappears. He finds himself in Paradise with an angel named Sylvia. Meanwhile his wife Sheila, unswayed by friends suggesting he might have run off with another woman or simply that he died in the freak accident, becomes convinced he has been abducted by aliens.

The book follows a cast of distinctive characters, whose lives are seemingly unconnected, but as the story develops the reader starts to see how they overlap. Some of the characters are larger than life and a good deal of humour derives from their views and actions in trying to achieve their aims, but there is also a sense of sadness that many are missing something from their lives, be it a person or a sense of direction. There are a lot of characters to keep track of but as the book progresses and their interactions become clearer it becomes easier to follow.

I enjoyed the satire and the wry observations about life the author makes, and I wanted to keep reading to find out what had happened to Roy but also to see who would finally connect with whom and how. I did find that because of the formatting on the kindle paragraphs ran together that probably shouldn't have, and it wasn't instantly clear that the action had moved, but careful reading and being engrossed in the story meant this was not a major issue.

I hadn't appreciated that this book features Alison of Alison Wonderland, had I done so I would probably have read that first to have had a greater background on her character but I think Being Light is perfectly capable of standing on it's own. It's a good, character driven story that I was desperate to finish to find out how things would turn out.

The big clean up

Well, that's it over and done with for another year. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas Day. We spent the morning with my grandparents, had lunch with them and then took my nan up to see my parents and my sister and her family in the afternoon. With 3 girls under 18mths between us it was a bit hectic but watching the older two playing with their new toys (or more frequently the wrapping paper and packaging) was great.

My task for this morning was to clear up all the packaging and try to make space for Monkey's new toys. I was doing well until I was diverted by Amazon's 12 days of Kindle. They have a bunch of e-books available for 12 days at just £1 so I have bought a few to add to my To Be Read list. I think though that before I read another e-book I should read the tree book my husband bought me as one of my presents - it's a Clive Cussler monster.

I was watching the news this morning with my usual amazement, I can't imagine getting up at some ridiculous hour to be the first in line for the Boxing Day sales. That said I have been online looking to see what sort of discounts are about and am going to have to drag myself out as I need one last item to finish Monkey's room and I'm determined to get a bargain. The big question is where to start and whether I can find the motivation to get in the car and deal with crowds...

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Book Review: In Praise of Savagery by Warwick Cairns

This is a book I read just before I started my blog, and it's about time I got round to adding it!

The author met and befriended explorer Wilfred Thesiger in his later years. Thesiger extended Cairns an invitation to visit his home in Africa and he decided to take up the offer, and do some exploring of his own with a couple of friends while he was there.

As a young man Thesiger led an expedition along the Awash River in Ethiopia, a trip which previous foreigners had failed to survive. He obviously did and the book switches between the two journeys.
The parallel journeys are interesting and provided glimpses into the culture of the tribes the two men encountered but I felt that the author tried to fit too much material in, glossing over what could have been more interesting and provided more colour to the picture of their trips, yet spent time musing on things that didn't really add to the book.

There were also some drastic changes in pace, drawing some things out that I felt didn't deserve that much attention then coming to breakneck conclusions. It wasn't my sort of humour and for me there wasn't enough for it to be an interesting commentary on tribal life and relative values, nor was there a strong enough plot for it to be a great novel, and not enough about the country and people to be a good travelogue. While there were some interesting thoughts on whether we in the developed world are the poorer for it again it wasn't considered in enough depth. Perhaps this book is trying to be too many things. It was good  enough to keep me interested but I doubt I'll read it again and I wouldn't recommend it.

Is it nearly Christmas yet?

3 weeks ago I thought I was the only one lacking any festive spirit and felt like I needed to step up my preparations, but now I can't believe it's still not even Christmas Eve. Thank goodness we're nearly there. I love Christmas, or at least the build up, but not the massive anti-climax once all the presents are open, you've eaten too much and realised there's nothing on TV and nowhere to go. The run up seems to start earlier every year, soon we'll be merging Easter, Valentines Day and Christmas into one long, over-commercialised holiday. This year I shall make a concerted effort to go to church on Christmas Eve with my Nan, it's a tradition we started when I was a kid and she used to take me to a Christingle kids service at the Cathedral in the town where we used to live. We let it slip when I got older but now it's a great way to remember what it's all about and take a bit of time to sit and reflect.

The major upside of Christmas is a break from work and time with family. Tomorrow Monkey is off to nursery and I get a day to myself. I'm hoping that I can fit in some reading (started Helen Smith's Being Light yesterday) but I suspect most of the day will be taken up undoing the damage and mess I made today. We had a carpet fitted in Monkey's newly decorated room today and I moved lots of furniture, but ended up emptying lots of stuff all over the place. Then my sister, just arrived to stay with the olds for Christmas after a four hour drive, came round with my little nieces. That definitely brought an end to my chances of tidying! I thought moving the furniture while hubby was out was doing him a favour, but I get a feeling he'll be a bit grumpy when he comes in and sees the mess. Once he's recovered his sense of humour we've got 4 whole days as a family before he's back on shifts, with lots of visiting of family to do, and hopefully some books under the tree. Roll on Christmas Eve!

Sunday 19 December 2010

Review: The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland Age 42 and Three Quarters by Barbara Silkstone

It's been a long time since I read Alice in Wonderland but it didn't affect my appreciation of this book one bit. The main character, Alice, is a neurotic, germophobic, anglophile whose life has gone seriously off the rails. Her strange world is full of characters resembling those in Lewis Carroll's book and she's started seeing the Cheshire Cat. She works for a killer who litigates for a hobby, and is being leant on by the shady family of one of his victims to secure a confession from him and testify against him at trial. To try and escape her life in Miami she goes online where she finds Nigel. He seems to be her perfect man, English, witty, eccentric, with an air of John Cleese about him. Unfortunately despite some glaring clues that he is not what he seems Alice is blind to it. He takes her on a jaunt around Europe, where he is attacked by a phantom fish flinger and she is convinced they are being followed. Alice had been hoping to escape the drama in Miami and settle down with Nigel, ideally in the Cotswolds, but things don't look like they are going to go her way.

The book is (unsurprisingly) written in the form of a diary, which has quotes from Carroll's book at the start of each section. I thought the way the quotes were weaved in was clever. The story whips along at quite a pace and is a combination of romance and whodunnit. Despite the fact Alice is a xanax popping mess who needs a good shake to see Nigel for what he really is I still liked her. She isn't a simpering victim, she's got guts and a sense of humour. This is a quirky tale with the sort of humour I associate with comedies like A Fish Called Wanda, perhaps why Alice is so keen to find a John Cleese-alike. All in all a fun modern fairytale, read it and see if Alice gets her happy ending.

Friday 17 December 2010

Book review: Unholy Angels by Karen Fenech

I was lucky enough to win this book in a giveaway and was delighted to have a crime thriller by an author who is new to me on my kindle.

As far as Liz Janssen was concerned her marriage to Peter had been over for a long time, and the couple had separated. When she finds her ex-husband to be dead, ruled to be a case of suicide, she doesn't feel to blame. However their son Will feels his beloved father's death is down to her demand for a divorce and becomes increasingly angry at her. Fuelling his anger are his father's friends, members of a satanic cult, who recruit him in place of his dad.

Sheriff Doug McBride has returned to his home town of Branville with ghosts to lay to rest. He becomes close to Liz having become involved in the investigation into Peter's death. He is also trying to figure out whether a series of strange events in the town are connected. However in trying to save her son Liz feels unable to trust Doug and the story moves to a dramatic climax.

The story is primarily told from Liz and Doug's viewpoints. I thought she was a strong character, I felt able to empathise with her as a mum desperate to save her relationship with her son. I found him likeable and the supporting characters were well written. This is a genre I particularly like and, although I can't put a finger on exactly why, this book generally reminded me of the style of Karin Slaughter, one of my "stuck in a rut" favourites.

Having finished the book I am slightly bemused by the note that some content may be disturbing. I didn't find anything detailed that was worse than you might find in other books of the same style, so I hope this wouldn't put anyone off. I will certainly be taking a look at other titles by Karen Fenech.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Footsore but baby free!

Today has been a very long day. We're having my daughter's room decorated and I managed to luck out this morning, not only finding a carpet I liked at a good price but also arranging to have it fitted before Christmas. I'm really pleased that we're so close to having her room done - she's 14 mths now and all her little friends had their nurseries ready for when they were born. Then at lunchtime I ventured into Exeter with my mum and nan, leaving Monkey with her dad, determined to finish off my Crimbo present shopping. It's amazing, mum and nan normally start the trip saying they don't want to be out for too long, they're not up to hours of shopping but by the end I'm the one begging to be allowed to go home. I must be getting old, by the time I was dropped off at home my legs had gone stiff from all the walking.

While we were out Nan and I got talking about books and about our personal tastes. I will read pretty much anything (my mum tells me as a kid if she wanted to do a big shop and she didn't have anything to amuse me she'd just thrust any old leaflet in my hands and I'd be happy as larry, that must have been the start of it) I love a good comedy, find period pieces fascinating, have read more crime thrillers than I probably ought, but what I really enjoy are books based around major historical or newsworthy events abroad, be they real accounts or fictional. My nan on the other hand only really likes books based in the UK, ideally based during or shortly after WWII. She says she likes them because she can relate to the characters, places and events. I, on the other hand, like to read about places and events I don't know about. It's unlikely I'll visit China or Africa (other than the bits up North I've already done) but I love to read about them. I've been meaning to add The Up-Country Man by Kenneth Ryland to my TBR list, it looks right up my street, and was going to add more Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to my collection until I realised they were price fixed, and more expensive for a kindle edition than the paperback (which I have no space for)

I was wondering whether the same sort of divide in taste is true of other people, is this a reflection of the way in which the world has become ever smaller and more accessible to people of my age, and information about other places more freely available, where my nan and her generation wouldn't have had the range of opportunities, and so less interest in other countries or is it just pure personal preference?

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Review: Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith & Weedon Grossmith

This book was first published in the late 1800s and introduces us to the world of Charles Pooter, a pompous clerk living in London. He feels that as everyone else seems to be keeping a diary he will record his life for posterity. No doubt today he would be busy penning his autobiography.

The first part of the book largely chronicles his difficulties with various tradesmen. Life then changes for Charlie (for the worse) and for wife Carrie (for the better, it seems) when their son Lupin returns to live with them. Lupin's behaviour and on-off relationship become a cause for parental concern. Charlie seems to fancy himself as something of a comedian, however much of the humour is at his expense. Even those he considers friends cause him no end of consternation.

The diary paints a vivid picture of their daily life, the social niceties of the period and the influences of fashion and trends particularly on Mrs Pooter. It makes for a very interesting portrait of life at the time. It isn't dissimilar to Cranford in style and while I felt like I was learning something, and it was a relatively short and easy read, I didn't find it quite as enjoyable. Maybe this was because it dwells a little more on the minutiae of their lives than Cranford, and focuses on a rather short time frame, excluding the possibility of seeing what happens to the characters in the longer term.

As it made me smile, and provides an interesting glimpe into a different period in history it was well worth the time it took to read.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Review: Boomerang by Alan Hutcheson

I've been reading a lot of thrillers and murder mysteries so fancying a change and something humourous I thought I would give this, which has received some very good reviews on Amazon, a try. Boomerang is an out and out comedy caper filled with a cast of dysfunctional characters. They are all trying to get their hands on a boomerang containing secrets dating back to the time of J Edgar Hoover. We have Ted and Jerry, reluctant partners who take on the job from an obscure covert agency just for the money. Doreen's son had the boomerang and was meant to have made serious money for passing it on, but botched the job and now she, accompanied by sister Amelia, is crossing the globe to retrieve it, followed by a cross-bow wielding albino assassin. Then there's Bethie, the former cheerleader who wants to avenge a wrong inflicted on her great-grandad.

The story is told from a host of viewpoints, including that of a dog, yet somehow the author manages to ensure they all receive enough attention, putting plenty of flesh on the bones of the various characters (and believe me the ones above aren't the extent of it) The under-employed employees of AABC were particularly amusing, I could just imagine their situation is probably too close for comfort to some government departments.

It was definitely a laugh out loud book at points, although it didn't have me in stitches in the way say a Ben Elton book often does. I liked the narrative style and despite the number of characters and everything going on never felt like I was struggling to keep up with who was who, or what they were doing and why. This is a book I really liked, good fun and light-hearted, and another Kindle 72p bargain.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Book Blogger Hop, from

"What is the thing you like most about reading book blogs?  Is it the reviews, author guest posts, articles, giveaways, or something else entirely?"

This is my first blog hop and I'm still finding my feet with blogging so please be gentle with me. I love reading book blogs because I'm always looking for inspiration for new authors and books I might like. I also love the articles because it's good to hear the opinions and thoughts of others who love reading as much as I do. People seem to be pretty friendly so I'm looking forward to becoming part of the community.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, please take a look further while you are here.

Great Giveaway

Helen Smith is running an amazing Cool Christmas Giveaway on her blog until 17th December. I'll be emailing in my entries for today  as soon as I've posted this. One of her books, The Miracle Inspector, is in my To Be Read virtual pile so a review should be appearing in the not too distant (once I get a handle on finishing my Christmas shopping, wrapping pressies and the baking I want to do)

Review: IVRRAC by Peter R Jordan

Simon is a serial killer who has just been imprisoned for the longest sentence in New Zealand's history. However when he is offered a get out of jail card, in the form of IVRRAC's rehabilitation programme, he jumps at the chance without checking the small print.

He is moved to Trentsworth, holiday destination and playground for the rich - the very people Simon has been targeting as self-appointed avenger of the poor. It becomes his new prison, and he immediately starts to plot his escape. However he falls in love with Kyndrea, a "richie" who is the type of person he previously despised, and discovers that IVRRAC is not all it seems.

I'd hate to reveal too much and spoil it for anyone else, so I'll just say this is part thriller/mystery, with a bit of romance and a bit of sci-fi (actually probably closer to sci-fact) If you're not a sci-fi fan don't let that description put you off though.

I enjoyed the development of Simon's character and finding out exactly what was what with IVVRAC. This was one of those books where I had to make myself put it down and was always trying to find some time to pick it up again, so that has to be a serious recommendation.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Why Glee but not Marian Keyes?

It's been a busy couple of days for me, and so cold! Between finishing A Christmas Carol and waking up this morning to find everything covered in hoar frost I'm starting to feel a bit more christmassy. Even better yesterday we had another session with our British Sign Language (BSL) tutor, we covered all sorts of festive signs and I'm pleased to say I can now sign We Wish You a Merry Christmas, albeit slowly. This is a very good thing to learn to do when you have a singing voice like mine!

On the topic of (bad) singing I was lying in the bath the other night, and could hear strains of The X-Factor drifting through from the lounge. It was the cast of Glee performing, which got me having a bit of a dance in the water. Then I started thinking. I'm a bit of a Gleek and there are plenty of other series on TV that I love that are just as fluffy and non-challenging. My husband still doesn't understand why a woman with a good education and a professional job chooses to watch that sort of thing and I just can't get him to understand that sometimmes it's good to relax and not think for a while. The odd thing is though that when it comes to books I can't bring myself to read anything that's the literary equivalent of Glee, good old chick lit. My mum, sister and friends rarely read anything else, and I've had a crack at a couple of their books but it really doesn't interest me. Why is that? Why shouldn't I want the same sort of mindless escapism from a book that I do from tv? Am I a book snob? Even now no one on the train would know what I was reading - one of the joys of a kindle - I still don't feel tempted so I don't think it's that. Is it just that reading a good book, regardless of the subject, is so engrossing that it doesn't matter if it's a bit more challenging? Any ideas anyone?

Sunday 5 December 2010

Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Although this is among Dickens' best known works this is the first time I have read the book (although I think I have seen at least two film versions as a kid, one of them being the Muppet version) I have enjoyed his works since I studied Hard Times as one of my A-level texts and have got a few more of his books waiting to be read. I was hoping reading this might help me discover some festive spirit.

I doubt I need to outline the plot, I can't imagine anyone reading a blog on books wouldn't know the story but for the sake of completeness, trying not to completely spoil it for anyone who doesn't....

Scrooge is a "squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!" who cannot abide Christmas. Then, one Christmas Eve he is visited by his dead business partner, followed by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. They show him the true spirit of Christmas and his grim fate, and that of his clerk's son Tiny Tim, should he not change his ways.

What I love about Dickens' writing is the rich, vivid descriptions that conjure up the sights and sounds so well. Some modern authors describe places I ought to be able to imagine as they would be within my realm of experience yet I can't clearly visualise them, whereas I can see in my mind's eye the London Scrooge inhabits. The Stave on the Ghost of Christmas Present includes brilliant scenes of families enjoying Christmas together, and that has really made me think about what the festive season is all about. A great book and job done as far as getting me in the mood for the holidays.

Review: Cries In The Dark by P A Woodburn

Cries in the Dark is a thriller set in the world of scientists and animal rights activists. Alex's father, a surgeon, died saving her from a fire suspected to have been started by animal rights activists. Her mother remarries and she is then brought up by her step-father to believe in the benefits to humankind of animal experimentation. She is planning on becoming a doctor herself and has no qualms about potentially working on lab animals. However after an accident she discovers she can communicate with animals, starts working in a lab that is teaching chimps American Sign Language and her life changes drastically. After the death of her friend she is thrown into the hunt for a murderer and starts seriously re-evaluating her position on vivisection.

I enjoyed this book a great deal and found that, although it leant more heavily towards the anti-vivisection camp, it didn't preach and presented some arguments for both sides. An emotive subject has been treated unusually well, although one part made me rather squeamish. The end was a bit abrupt and I would love to know what happens next, although it did tie up all the threads. For me the only slight negative was that I felt at times when the characters spoke and thought the language was very formal and I couldn't imagine anyone talking that way, maybe I'm just too used to seeing contractions used in books to make the text closer to day to day speech. Interestingly the author is a user of the Kindle forums on the Amazon site, and she has said she will try and address this in future novels - it's amazing how much interaction it is possible to have with authors! It was only a minor niggle though and otherwise it was a bargain and well worth space on my kindle.

Review: The Girl on The Swing by Ali Cooper

I bought this book based on feedback on the Kindle forums and I am so glad I did. This is Ali Cooper's first novel and I hope she'll be releasing the second very soon.

The main character Julia is a Doctor who has recently lost her son and has been suspended from her job. She believes she has lived before and starts a quest to find out more about her past lives. The narrative moves between the present and the past and as the book goes on it picks up pace and builds to a dramatic climax. I'm not sure how you would classify it but it certainly encompasses mystery. Both the main and sub-plots are well written and although there are lots of threads unlike some books they all feel relevant and given the same care and attention.

I loved the characters and the development of their relationships, both with the new friends she makes and with the husband and best friend who are becoming increasingly remote. This book is clever, beautiful, and I felt so drawn in by it. It moved me and despite the sadness in the main character Julia's life I finished the book with a smile on my face. The only problem I had was trying to categorise it to decide which collection to put it in on my kindle!

Cash, not Cards

Every year my Christmas card list grows longer and longer, and it now involves boxes and boxes of cards, hours to write them and military style planning to ensure we don't miss anyone who'd be offended because someone else did get one. That's why I love Cash for Cards and am going back to the idea this Christmas.

A couple of years ago a colleague introduced the concept at work, the idea being that instead of sending cards you pass on the message in another way (online, or if everyone is in one place by providing somewhere everyone can write festive messages) and you donate the money you would have spent on cards and postage to charity instead. Last year we would have done the same but had so many Baby's 1st Christmas cards we felt we had to send them.

It's a great idea, saves time, fits with the environmental Reduce, Reuse, Recycle thing and is more in the spirit of Christmas, to me anyway. This year we'll be donating to the National Deaf Children's Society - They aren't well known but do a fantastic job and provide amazing support to families with deaf children.

Now I'm going to use all that time I've saved to do something fun with Monkey, and will use this as an opportunity to start saying Merry Christmas and Happy 2011 everyone!

Saturday 4 December 2010

Review: The Basement by Stephen Leather

This is the first of Stephen's books I've read. He is an active member of the Kindle forums on Amazon, has shared some really interesting info about about an experiment he has been carrying out on pricing and sales of e-books, and as a big fan of murder mysteries I thought this book was well worth a try at the offer price of 72p and with a bunch of good reviews.

The story is told from two viewpoints, one a frustrated wannabe writer, the other a serial killer. Whether they are one and the same is the big question. Two cops working the case certainly think so. I won't say any more for fear of this review turning into a spoiler. I thought I had the twist in the tale sussed but was wrong, which in a round about way always pleases me.

This is a fast paced book, with a really interesting main character, and to me it approaches the genre in a slightly different and refreshing way. I really enjoyed it and am planning to read more of Mr Leather's books (although I have one or two others waiting to be read first, she types tongue in cheek)

Christmas is coming...

It looks like the whole country apart from where I live is under inches and inches of snow, and everyone I know seems to have already put up their decorations, but I'm really not feeling it yet. Sure, I've done some of the shopping and wrapped some presents but the festive spirit is distinctly lacking. Snow would definitely help but our sprinkling of the stuff has been and gone. Last week I saw this on Facebook, (apparently the list is slightly different from the original BBC list) :

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
 2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger 
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
 21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
 22 The Great Gatsby  F Scott Fitzgerald
 23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
 24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
 26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
 27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
 28 Grapes of Wrath –  John Steinbeck
 29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carrol
 30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
 31 Anna Karenina –Leo Tolstoy
 32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
 33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
 34 Emma – Jane Austen
 35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
 37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
 38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
 39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Willaim Golden
 40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
 41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
 42 The Da Vinci Code - dan brown
 43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabrial Garcia Marquez
 44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
 45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
 46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
 47 Far from the Madding Crowd _ Thomas Hardy
 48 The Handmaids Tale - Margaret Atwood
 49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
 50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
 51 Life of Pi - Yann Martell
 52 Dune – Frank Herbert
 53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
 54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
 55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
 56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
 57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
 58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
 60 Love in the time of Cholera - Gabriel garcia Marquez
 61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
 62 Lolita -  Vladimir Nabokov
 63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
 64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
 65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
 66 On the Road - Jack Kerouac
 67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
 68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
 69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
 70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
 71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
 72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
 73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson
 74 Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson
 75 Ulysses - James Joyce
 76 The Bell Jar - Sylivia Plath
 77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
 78 Germinal – Emile Zola
 79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
 80 Possession - AS Byatt
 81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
 82 Cloud Atlas - Charles Mitchell
 83 The Colour Purple - Alice Walker
 84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
 85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
 86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
 87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
 88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
 89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
 90 The Faraway Tree collection - Enid blyton
 91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
 92 The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie & the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I was quite pleased with myself clocking up 35 read, until I discovered people who'd read 65+. So, I was thinking perhaps I should try and read some more of these well loved books, and as A Christmas Carol is one I haven't read yet maybe I can kill two birds with one stone, read a good book and find the spirit of Christmas. I started it a bit earlier and am hoping Monkey will go to bed and settle easily tonight so I can get into it. Wish me luck!

Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

When I decided it was about time to start reading some classics this was at the top of the list. It was a story I thought I would know, but I should have put aside all the modern halloween images that come to mind when you think of Frankenstein's monster.

I found it a fascinating story within a story with 3 different narrators. It details the life of M. Frankenstein, and his studies which lead to him creating the monster. Having completed his great work he immediately realises what he has done and seeks to undo the damage. There is very little gore and guts, it's not the horror novel I was expecting on that count, and not much on how the monster was created. Instead the story encompasses major themes including the progress of science and the unforeseen results of man's experiments. Despite the age of the book it is still applicable today, when you think of the rows over GM foods and cloning and where they could lead us.

I felt it was a little slow and unduly wordy in places and the language was typical of books of this period, but once I got into it I found it hard to put down. It wasn't what I expected, it was even quite touching in places, and was better than I anticipated.

My first blog!

Oooh, first post ever! I'm a Facebook enthusiast but have never tweeted or blogged so this is all quite new to me. So why start now? Well, not so long ago my lovely husband paid attention to a few less than gentle hints that I'd like a Kindle for my birthday and hey presto, beautifully wrapped (in the original Amazon box), there it was as the clock struck midnight. I've always loved books but over the last couple of years time has been short and I've not managed to read so much. This probably has something to do with my one year old daughter as much as anything else.

However since my birthday my enthusiasm has been rekindled and I'm now reading more than ever. This time there's a difference though. Instead of my old rut, reading the same authors over and over, I'm now discovering new authors and some fantastic books. I wanted a way to keep track of what I am reading but could do without more notebooks cluttering up the place so this seemed like the way to go. Hopefully it might give other readers some ideas, and no doubt I'll be following other peoples' blogs searching for inspiration.

I have been browsing the Amazon Kindle forums and finding plenty of great suggestions for books to try, and have discovered on there how important reviews and word of mouth recommendations are to new and indie authors in particular. In a way then maybe this blog will be giving a little back to the authors who have written the books I enjoy.

Calling the blog Booked Up is a reflection on the state of my diary and my kindle, the former full of baby related appointments, the latter nowhere near full but with an ever lengthening To Read list.

That'll have to be all for now, nap time is over which means it must be nearly lunchtime. Back soon to start getting some reviews and more musing on here!