A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books


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A little spending spree

A while back, I bought the first four books in the Agatha Raisin series for my Kindle. I think they were in one of the sales so I probably paid about £1. Bargain. It’s taken me a while to read them as although I liked the first book, I didn’t love it. I have recently read the last three books though and enjoyed them enough to want to read more in the series.

I went online and had a look how much it’d be for the next few books. No point just getting one as once I get my teeth into a series, I want to read the lot. Sadly the best price I could find on Amazon was about £5 – for just one book and I didn’t want to spend that much.

Next stop was The Book People to see if maybe they had the next four in the series as a bundle. I didn’t find the next four, but I did find the first 20, and at just £1 per book, it was well worth buying that, even though I’d already read the first four.

Books0216-01

Problem was that I’d then have to pay shipping – unless I spent a bit more to get the total over £25. After a look through the collections to see if anything looked tempting, I found an eight book collection of Hemingway. Four of the books are ones that I’ve already read, but I wouldn’t mind re-reading a couple of them. I loved For whom the bell tolls! The other four are on my wish list so I added those to the order making a total of twenty-eight books.

Books0216-02They’re not the prettiest editions, but for £1 per book, I don’t really care.

The Book People are usually quite fast at delivering and the parcel came after a few days. Is there anything nicer than getting a big box of books through the post?

Books0216-03The cats are quite happy too. Frodo was very keen to get the box open and to get all of my stuff out of it so that he could play in it.

Books0216-04Both cats have had fun sitting in it so far, and I’ve had fun putting all the books in my spreadsheet and then shelving them. They just fitted on the To Be Read bookshelves which I’m taking as proof that I’ve managed to read quite a lot of books off there. I think I need to read a few more before I go book shopping again though.


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Books of 2015

I thought I’d take a look back at my reading habits last year and what I read. There were fewer books than in previous years, but I did manage to read more from my To Be Read pile. I tackled a few books that weren’t interesting enough to keep me glued to the pages, but had enough about them to persuade me to continue with them. They did not get read quickly so I found myself reading less.

I didn’t stray much out of my comfort zone apart from those few books so mostly read authors that I already knew that I liked. The problem with those was lack of reading time, partly because of how much time I spent gardening last year, and partly because of starting a new job in September. Also, the library has not been getting any new books in due to budget cuts, so I’ve read my own books which have no deadline. Picking up five books from the library and knowing they need to be returned within four weeks is excellent for making you focus on them.

In December I managed just two books, although I did have three on the go for most of the month, none of which were finished before the end of the year.

I started using Goodreads more seriously as I like the website and enjoy seeing reviews and comments by other people who’ve read the books. I also like seeing what my friends are reading and being able to share recommendations with them. I love the year in review thing they do too.

I’ve found a way of getting more reading time, which has worked very well for the past two weeks. I have up to a couple of hours of dead time, sitting on a bus to and from work. I can’t read a book on the bus as it makes me travel sick, but I can listen to one. I joined Audible and got the latest Lee Child, which I’ve been dying to read, and have enjoyed listening to that on the bus. It makes the journey go so much quicker and I’ve noticed that I get a lot more from the book. When I read paperbacks or on the Kindle, I do read quite quickly and may miss a lot of the details. With an audio book, you can’t do that so I’ve had a different experience. Audio also works great while I’m doing a bit of cross stitch in the evening, so I no longer have to decide between crafting and reading. Bonus!

One of the authors that I read the most last year was Cassandra Clare. I finished reading The Mortal Instruments series, moved straight on to The Infernal Devices and then read all The Shadowhunter Academy stories, as they came out. I do like it when I can read a series straight through, especially when they’re as good as these.

I started the year by catching up on all the Rizzoli and Isles books by Tess Gerritsen. The books are much grittier than the TV series, but I enjoy both.

Some of my favourite authors had books out. I loved the latest ones by Sarah Waters (The paying guests) and Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch), but one of the best reads of the year for me was the new book by Kate Atkinson (A god in ruins). That was a follow on from Life after life, which has to be in my all time top ten. A god in ruins didn’t have the same impact as Life after life, but I loved revisiting the same characters and it was another excellent read from Kate Atkinson.

Kazuo Ishiguro had a new book out too (The buried giant) and although I liked it, it’s not one of my favourites by him. Alan Bradley had another book out in the Flavia de Luce series, which I’d been waiting for impatiently. I don’t think it was as good as earlier books, mainly because it was in a different setting and so missing all the familiar characters apart from Flavia herself. It was still good though and I’m now waiting for book #8.

I read a few non-fiction books, mostly on the Kindle. The best of those was Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was well written, interesting and entertaining. I’d quite like to see the film. I also really enjoyed Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood. I like reading Hemingway and was interested in his life, having visited his house in Key West. This book gave a different viewpoint of him and was an excellent read.

I read a few books by authors I hadn’t come across before, mostly due to publisher’s emails or reviews on websites. One of the best of those was Bird Box by Josh Malerman. It was very different, and one of those books that keep you reading until late. I also read Girl on a train by Paula Hawkins, which was another gripping book.

One of my favourites of the year was another new author, Clare North. I spotted a mention of a book called The first fifteen years of Harry August and thought it sounded intriguing. It was, and I loved it.

I discovered the Sherlock Holmes books by Laurie R. King, after a recommendation from Tree, and read three of those. I’m sure I’ll read more of them this year.

I read a couple more by Donna Andrews. Her books are always so funny and entertaining. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of her birdy puns.

I finally got around to finishing off the Dana Stabenow books on my Kindle. I’ve tried to make the Kate Shugak series last, as they’re so very good and I didn’t want to run out. Sadly, I’ve now read book 20 and have to wait for the author to write the next one. It finished on a real cliff-hanger too. So frustrating!

I also read the last two of my Iain Banks stash and am very saddened that there will be no more. He was one of my favourite authors, with his book The wasp factory being in my all time top ten.

(I should mention that my top ten may have more than ten books in it, but I love them all so much that I can’t bear to relegate any of them.)

So, not a bad year. I’ve read some great books, found some new authors and have discovered a new way of enjoying books. I’m looking forward to seeing what literary delights 2016 has in store for me.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 


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2015 reading challenge link up party – June

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so time to post an update on the books that I’ve read for the challenge in the last month.

I’ve managed to read four more for the challenge taking my total up to 21/53

A funny book
The good, the bad and the emus by Donna Andrews

I love the Meg Langslow mysteries by Donna Andrews. I’ve read every one so far and they’ve all been so very funny. I rarely buy paper books these days. I either download or use the library but I always preorder these books as they’re one of my favourite series. They’re murder-mysteries and feature Meg and her increasingly eccentric family. All the books have something to do with birds, and the titles reflect this. This one had some feral emus in it, which made for some amusing moments.

A book that was made into a film
The French lieutenant’s woman by John Fowles

This has been on my To Be Read pile for a few years. I bought it in a second-hand book shop when I was looking for books on the 1001 list, and it’s been sitting on my shelves ever since. As it fitted this prompt perfectly, I thought it was time to read it. I’ve never seen the film so I can’t compare the two, but I did enjoy the book. I liked the way the author puts his own voice in there, to add the odd comment, and I liked the general writing style. It’s set in Victorian England and reminded me in part of some of the Jane Austen novels, as far as the setting and characterisation went.
One thing I do know about the film, is the theme tune for it, and sadly that was playing in my head for most of the book. It was a bit distracting 🙂

A book that was recommended by a friend
The dig by Michael Siemsen

A friend, who shares some of my reading tastes, told me about this book a couple of months ago. I downloaded it when I got home and have finally got around to reading it. He was right – I did enjoy it. It’s about a man who can get imprints from objects. He touches something and experiences the life of someone else in the past who has touched it. I loved the way it was told, with half of the story being about the life of the person who had owned one particular object and the rest being about the main character and what happens to him. It was like reading two different stories at the same time, but in a good way.

A memoir
Beyond the limit by Professor Sid Watkins

I read Life at the limit by Watkins last year and really enjoyed it so I was hoping that this sequel would be as good. While it was a fairly interesting read, I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first one. It just wasn’t as interesting and I did skim a couple of pages.

A book that isn’t in the challenge 

One of the other books that I read this month was The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins. I’ve tried, but I can’t fit it into any of my remaining prompts for this challenge. It really was too good not to mention though so here’s my thoughts on it.
It starts off being written in the voice of Rachel, the girl on the train. She takes the same trains every day and when the train slows or stops at one particular spot, she looks into the gardens of the houses that back onto the tracks. She imagines what the life of one couple is, even giving them names. Another house, she avoids looking at. From the way the book is written, you’re instantly curious about why Rachel is doing this, and what her story is. Some of the book is written from the viewpoint of Anna and Megan and from hearing what’s happening to each of these women, the story unfolds. I was completely gripped by this book and finished it in one day. I read it because it’s had such good press and there’s been a lot of chatter about it. Sometimes you find yourself disappointed by such books, but not this time. Very much recommended.

Linking up to Rachel for the challenge party.


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2015 reading challenge link up party – May

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so time to post an update on the books that I read for the challenge in April.

I’ve managed to read another three for the challenge taking my total up to 17/53

Second life

A book published this year
Second Life by S. J. Watson

One of my most anticipated releases of the year as it’s by the author that wrote Before you go to sleep, which I loved. I found it a bit harder to settle to this one, but that may be more down to having so many other things that I needed to do, and that making me too restless to concentrate on reading. Once I did get into the book though, I really enjoyed it. It got quite gripping as the main character got deeper and deeper into a situation. I’m not sure what I thought of the ending. One the one hand it felt unfinished, but on the other hand, it was more like real life and I do like a book that doesn’t have an everything-sewn-up-nicely ending.

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A book based on a true story
Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

This is a fictionalised account of the four wives of Ernest Hemingway. I really like Hemingway’s books, and am lucky enough to have been to his house in Key West. Because of this, I wanted to know  more about him and thought that this book sounded interesting. The author has taken the known facts and filled them in to make an interesting story. I really enjoyed it, and loved reading about the house as it was so easy to visualise the scenes there. Worth reading whether you’re a Hemingway fan or not.

Stonemouth

A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
Stonemouth by Iain Banks

Iain Banks is one of my favourite authors. His first book, The wasp factory, is in my all time top five favourites. I’ve read most of his books but I’ve been hoarding two of his contemporary fiction books plus a couple of his sci-fi novels, as I knew that once I’d read them, there wouldn’t be any more. Silly, I know, but there you are. I decided it was time to read some of them now, as two would be perfect for this challenge and I can always go and re-read The wasp factory (again) if I feel the need.

So, Stonemouth. It was brilliant. Set in a small town in Scotland, it starts with a young man returning home for a funeral. Due to something he did a few years before, he had to flee the town but is hopeful that he’ll be allowed back for the weekend. As the book continues, you find out why he was in so much trouble that he had to leave and the truth comes to light about that incident and a couple of others. The book is light-hearted in places, there’s the expected black humour, and some of it is more serious. It was a gripping and interesting read and I’m glad that I finally allowed myself to read it.

Linking up to Rachel for the challenge party.


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2015 reading challenge link up party – April

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so time to post an update on the books that I read for the challenge in March. I’ve managed to read another four for the challenge taking my total up to 14/53

twins

A book by an author  you’ve never read before The Twins by Saskia Sarginson Plenty of scope for this prompt, as I had several books on my TBR shelves that would fit. I picked one that was sent to me by my friend Tree. We have very similar taste in books so I was confident that I’d enjoy it, and indeed I did. I loved the way the book was written in the present, but with flashbacks to different times in the past. To understand the events of the recent past and the present, you need to know what happened when the twins were children, and this is gradually revealed. Every time I thought I had an idea what it was, the book revealed that there was more to know. The ending was very good with the reveal being worth waiting for. My only niggle was that there was a lot of mention of current events during the flashbacks, almost as if the author were assuring us that she had indeed done her research. It wasn’t too irritating though and overall I really enjoyed the book.

Birdbox

A book you can finish in a day Bird box by Josh Malerman This wasn’t one that I was reading for the challenge, but when I picked it up from the library, I had to wait for Stephen to run an errand, so started reading it in the car. It was one of those that grips you from the start so I carried on reading it once I got home and finished it later that day. It’s told partly in the present and partly through flash-backs. The present covers only a few hours but is very tense. The flash-backs explain what went before. It won’t make my favourite books list, but it was gripping and enjoyable.

 

 

 

Dogstory

A book set somewhere that you’ve always wanted to visit Galina Petrovna’s three-legged dog story by Andrea Bennett This is set in Russia, which is one of the places on my bucket list, so I thought it’d do nicely for the challenge. I saw it mentioned in one of the many book emails that I get and it sounded quirky. I like to read books that are a bit different so gave it a try. It’s about an elderly woman and her three-legged dog, the woman’s friends, and the dog-catcher. It was an easy read with interesting characters and a decent story. I liked it.

 

 

 

Zoltar

A book with non-human characters The eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde I’ve taken the prompt to mean that some of the characters are non-human and not all, and there are several non-humans in The eye of Zoltar, such as Colin the dragon. I’ve read the first two books in this series and liked them a lot. This one was just as good and I’m hoping there’ll be another book to come. Not as good as the literary detective series by Fforde, but good fun and an enjoyable read.

 

 

 

Linking up to Rachel for the challenge party.


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2015 reading challenge link up party – March

We’ve decided to just post monthly for this challenge from now on, with the posts being on the first Sunday of the month. Rachel has other commitments taking her away from reading at the moment and it’ll let both of us have a bit more content to our posts.

I’ve managed to read another three for the challenge taking my total up to 10/53.

A book with a number in the title
Three amazing things about you by Jill Mansell

mansellthreeI did have another book down for this prompt but when this one turned up, I thought it would do nicely. I’d had it on reserve at the library for ages so was delighted when it finally got to my turn as I usually enjoy this author. I liked this one a lot. I didn’t love it, but it was a sweet, enjoyable read.

A book with a colour in the title
Black roses by Jane Thynne

thynneblackThis is another prompt where I’d intended to read something already on my To Be Read pile, but again, when this one arrived from the library, it fitted the prompt so I decided to use it. My friend is sending me the second book in this series and as I’m incapable of reading books out of order, I reserved this one from the library so I could read it first. It’s set during WWII, in Berlin and was a very good read. I’m looking forward to the second instalment now.

A non-fiction book
The politics of washing: real life in Venice by Polly Coles

colesveniceThis has been on my Kindle for ages. I can’t resist anything set in Venice as I still remember our amazing holiday there back in the nineties. This was an interesting read which I quite enjoyed. It was written by someone who spent a year living in Venice. It has some Venetian history in it, and tells what normal life is like there for people who have to go to work and school among all the tourists.

I’ve also read the first book in the quartet that I’m reading for the Trilogy prompt, but I’ll post that once I’ve completed all four books.

Linking up to Rachel for the challenge party.


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2015 reading challenge link up party – Feb #2

I’ve come up with a cunning plan to allow me to post for Rachel’s link party for the Ultimate Reading Challenge, when it falls on the same day as the cross stitch SAL post. I don’t want to do two linky posts on the same day and the SAL is every three weeks, the Reading posts are the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. They’re going to clash a fair bit

Rachel is in New Zealand which is ahead of us by half a day. So, if I post on the Saturday night, that’ll be Sunday morning in NZ, so will be a bit early here, but perfectly timed for Rachel’s post. Crafty, huh?

Right, ramble finished, here’s my reads for the past two weeks.

Total so far  7/52

Read a book from the year that you were born
Trustee from the toolroom by Nevil Shute.

TrusteeToolroomI’ve read a couple of Shute’s books before this one. Most people know him for A town like Alice, which I’ve read and enjoyed, but I much preferred On the beach. I was fairly confident that I’d like this one, and I did. It’s a smashing story and I love the writing style.

I actually had a great choice of books from the year that I was born, but I’d read most of the ones that I’d heard of. There were still a few to pick from though and luckily the library had a copy of this one.

Read a Pulitzer prize-winning book
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

GoldfinchI’ve been meaning to read this for ages as I loved The secret history. I spotted it on the list of Pulitzer prize-winners and knew straight away that it was the perfect book for this category. It was an excellent read, all 800+ pages of it so I’m glad the challenge gave me a push to finally read it.

Read a book with antonyms in the title
Wild: A journey from lost to found by Cheryl Strayed

No picture for this one as I read it on the Kindle. I’ve seen the film of this advertised quite a lot recently and it looked good. You know me though, I’d rather read the book, so I looked it up on Amazon and downloaded it. If the film is half as good as the book, it’ll be worth watching. Once again I’m glad that the challenge pushed me to read this instead of storing it on my Kindle for a year or two.

That’s all for this update. I’ve got plenty of ideas for what to read for the other categories now. I just need to find the time to read them.

The link-up party is here. It’s not too late to join in if you’d like. The more the merrier.


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2015 reading challenge link up party – Feb

Rachel over at Kiwi Rach finding home has started a link up party for the 2015 ultimate reading challenge that I mentioned last month. The link up is on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month so I won’t be able to join in every time, due to the stitching SAL clashing with it, but I’ll post when I can.

I’m crossing three books off my list this time, making 4/52.

I’ve been on a Tess Gerritsen reading binge for a couple of weeks and two of those books will do nicely for the challenge. Vanish will do for the one word title, and I’m using The Mephisto club for the mystery/thriller category.

GerritsensI’ve loved catching up on the Rizzoli & Isles books. The TV series is very good, but as always, the books are better. They are so filled with detail that the TV adaptation lacks and the story lines are much more compelling. It’s really hard to put one of these down once you’ve started it.

The third book that I’m using for the challenge is The paying guests by Sarah Waters. 2015-01-05 10.55.08

I enjoyed this one, but not quite as much as some of the others by the author. I found it a bit slow to get started but once it did, it was another book that was hard to put down.

I’ve been getting some ideas for some of the other categories in the challenge and have just picked up a couple of library books that will do nicely.2015-02-01 17.12.16

I was struggling to find a trilogy that I wanted to read. I’m trying to use books on my shelves where possible but that’s something that I didn’t have. Then I realised that I did have the first two books in a set of four.2015-02-01 17.14.41I’ve been waiting for the last two to drop in price and after checking on Amazon, I found that they were both available for 1p so they’ve been ordered. I’m thinking that four books is even better than three so they’ll do nicely for the trilogy category.

I’m still searching for something set in my home city, but I have a couple of ideas. I’m still stumped on finding an author with my initials. C L if anyone has any ideas.

The link-up party is here. It’s not too late to join in if you’d like. The more the merrier.


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More books!

I had an email from the library to say that another of the Tess Gerritsen books was in. I had three to return so I walked up there to fetch it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to read it until the others arrived as the other two come before it in the series.

Imagine my surprise and delight to find out that three more had turned up since the email.

 

GerritsensAll three by Tess Gerritsen that I was waiting for, so I can make a start on them, plus a Karen Rose that I’ve been waiting for. I think I reserved that a couple of months ago.

With heavy snow forecast, I’m thinking the best place to be is at home, snuggled under a blanket, with some books. Bliss.


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A few new books to read

I spotted a draw on Alibi’s FaceBook page a couple of weeks ago to win the new Tess Gerritsen book. Alibi is the TV channel that shows Rizzoli and Isles and I love that show. I also love the books, so I entered the draw.

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I got an email to say I’d won. The book arrived a couple of days later from UK TV.

DieAgain

I just love the smell of a brand new hardback book.

Winning the book did cause a minor problem. I’ve read quite a few of the Rizzoli and Isles books, but I’ve got a bit behind over the last few years and there were five that I hadn’t read, besides the newest one. I cannot read them out of order. I just can’t.

Not to be deterred, I popped onto the library website and ordered the next two that I needed to read. They arrived nice and quickly along with a Jack Sheffield that I’d been waiting for.

Gerritsens

I’ve just finished reading the two by Tess Gerritsen, and have now ordered the next three books in the series. I do like the odd binge read 🙂

I’d just finished the newest Sarah Waters when those library books were ready to collect so that was excellent timing.

2015-01-05 10.55.08

I love her books and this one was just as good as the others that I’ve read. I’m using it to tick off another one on the reading challenge, as I’m thinking it’ll do nicely for the Love Triangle category. That might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s close enough.