The blog, the challenge and the re-reading…

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here. I apologise for that, but life takes over sometimes. In the past year of writing no blog posts I have managed to read quite a bit. This is a post about my book related life in 2016 so far. I’m writing it in the hope of writing more regularly again. 

Firstly, the moment has come at last, I can finally say that I have reached the summit that was Bleak House by Charles Dickens. My first Dickens; all 932 pages of it; finished. It took me eleven months on and off and I really enjoyed it in the end. I can truthfully say that once you get past the fog and the slow set up of each and every character, it becomes so worth it. I actually laughed, I also cried real tears. If you have a spare few months or haven’t got round to this very multi-layered book yet, do read it. I recommend it. It’s all the better if you can read it in larger chunks so set aside time if possible. 

The next news is that I’ve had a huge Harry Potter revival. This was directly caused by a visit to the set of Harry Potter at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London. My husband bought the tickets as a present for my last birthday and we spent a very happy day there in February.

Since then I have had to revisit all of the films. Now I’m revisiting all of the books. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the series, is a great book to re-read and this was at least my third time reading it, but there were still bits left out by the film that I had forgotten. It’s so good on the page. J.K Rowling infuses so much detail to every scenario. The wizarding world looks so good in this first portrayal. Moving immediately on, the second book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets brings even more of Hogwarts to life. If you’ve only seen the films I urge you to read these books. This one in particular had me laughing out loud at various points. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban owns the honour of being my favourite of the films, but when I first read the series I preferred the fourth book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which I am currently reading. This is my first reread of these two. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was a brilliant read, and again I was happily immersed in details I had forgotten that the film removed or changed. More on this rereading spree in future posts. Safe to say, I recommend going on a Harry Potter binge.

We are nearly up to date. I’ve set myself targets this year of reading a book a week: 52 books. I’ve read 19 so far. A far greater challenge I have set myself is to not buy any more books at all. This is important as my unread library stands at over 200 books. I will keep you informed.

Books I have read this year include:Bleak House by Charles Dickens 8/10. Four Agatha Christie books: The Mysterious Mr Quin, The Listerdale Mystery, By the Pricking of my Thumbs and The Pale Horse; all 7/10. Three books by Dick Francis: Bolt (7/10), For Kicks (8/10) and Flying Finish (7/10). Disclaimer by Renee Knight (7/10), I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (9/10), Slam by Nick Hornby (8/10), Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin (8/10), Agatha Raisin Kissing Christmas Goodbye by MC Beaton (6/10), The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (7/10), Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephenie Meyer (7 and 1/2 out of 10), Very British Problems by Rob Temple (6/10) and the first three Harry Potter books by JK Rowling. 

I will hope to tell you more about some of the above in future posts. In the meantime, happy reading everyone, whatever you might be reading at the moment.


Progress! Books 1-7 of 2015 and a big announcement!

Hi everyone and a very belated happy new year! I wrote before the turn of the year of my expectations for my upcoming year in books. I haven’t been dedicated enough to update here but things are going smoothly so far, although I may have done something to sabotage myself.

So far in 2015, I have read 7 books; a number I am quite pleased with. I’ve been enjoying using twitter to complete Borough Press’ #bookadayuk, which is great fun and reminds me of a very short version of the challenge I did on here in 2013.

My 7 books so far include three Agatha Christies, so I’m optimistic about my target of completing her complete works this year. The Moving Finger proved to be a very good read, and introduced Miss Marple extremely late on in the book, which, if you’ve read my reviews before, you know I like! Partners in Crime is a book of short stories about Agatha’s less well known detectives, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. I’m not a huge fan of Christie’s short stories usually, preferring a full on novel, but these were excellent. The writing style is easy going, and Tommy and Tuppence are a lot of fun. Destination Unknown, however, is one of Dame Agatha’s stand alone thrillers, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Where the previous book was fun, this wasn’t at all. The characters were moderately endearing and the plot was slow but ultimately interesting. So, not a complete waste of time, but quite low down my list of Christie favourites.

I’ve also read The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie by Charles Osbourne, which details all of the queen of crime’s prolific output in date order with details of her life at the time interspersed. I would only recommend this to hardcore Agatha fans, as it’s somewhat heavy going, but very enjoyable in places. Maybe one to dip into rather than read cover to cover like I did.

Making up the magnificent seven, I’ve also read one Dick Francis The Danger. It took me much longer to read than his others, but the characters were fantastic and the plot is brilliant despite being a little slower moving in places than the others I’ve read. (See Dead Cert here and Nerve here.)

Last but not least I’ve read two teen books this year. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore and The Enemy by Charlie Higson. Both were good. Both led me to look up sequels on amazon. If you only bother with one though, I’d go with The Enemy. Higson writes in a very youth friendly way, about a zombie apocalypse. Well, that’s how it seems anyway. Basically, everyone over 14 years of age got ill. Some died but many went insane and still walk the earth trying to eat the intrepid survivors, the under 14s. There’s a lot of death in this book. It’s sad but there are great action scenes and very good characterisations. I will be keeping my eyes open for the sequels when I’m buying books again. I am Number Four is not as well written, and is far more sci-fi, and much more teen friendly I would say. Number four is an alien in a teenage boy’s body, exiled from his dead planet with only a minder and a friendly dog for company. He falls in love, but the evil aliens who killed his planet are coming for him. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if I came upon the sequels in the library I would like to know how it works out for four.

I seem to have written an incredibly long post. I’m currently reading Proof by Dick Francis which is amazing. But, hold the front page for this: yesterday I went to my shelf and picked up Bleak House by Charles Dickens. “Big deal!” I hear you cry! Well, those of you who have read any of this blog will know that this particular book of mine has sat on my shelf for years, and every year I say I’m going to take the plunge into the 932 page volume and read it. Reader, I’ve started it! It may well derail my attempts to read 52 books, it may well take up every waking hour that I’m not teaching, but I’ve taken the first baby steps. I’m on chapter three! This is my first ever foray into Dickens. To those of you who warned me about the pages of fog description, I’ve made it through those and past the first appearance of Lady Deadlock. I’ll let you all know how I get on…