Judging books by their cover #3: women walking away…

img_0666Yesterday, posting my latest read on Instagram, I commented that I had – once again – picked a book that had a woman walking away from me.  In a bright coat.  I really can’t resist these books and I’m not sure why.

Is the woman in question walking away from me or into danger?  Should I follow her?  What is she thinking – is she smiling, crying, scowling? So many questions and I want to know the answer to all of them so I have to read the book.

Book blogger hop: visiting blogs on linky lists

book-blogger-hop-finalThis week, I’m once again joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…

Do you visit every listed blog in the linky list when you are participating in a meme?

And my answer is yes, sometimes, and no, mostly, though I do try and visit as many as I can.  In part it depends on when I join the linky and also on how many people have joined in.  Who I follow and get notifications on also has an impact.

Because I do think it’s important to try and visit as many other blogs as possible and to remove any guilt I have about not doing that, I have a bit of a system that you are free to laugh at all you want and I am sure a psychologist would find some deep-rooted meaning in but here it is.

  • If there are 10 or less linkys when I post mine, I visit them all up to that point.
  • If there are more than 10 I visit the first 10 then go up in fives, visiting every fifth blog after that.
  • I visit all the posts of people I follow and comment on regularly.  Sometimes I don’t see them on the list but see a notification and go through there.
  • I try to always visit the posts of everyone who comments on my blog.  Because I am not as quick on my comments as I would like this might be a day or too later.  If that’s the case and they have a newer post I may well comment on that as well.
  • Finally, I try and share all the posts I comment on through twitter and Facebook (I say try because I do forget).

See, a psychologists dream – I am sure they can tell me all about why 10’s and 5’s play into my reasoning.  And now you have stopped laughing, what about you – what do you do? Do you visit all, some or none or does it depend?

Emma

 

 

#FF: Books that made me cry

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Once again, I’m joining in again with Feature & Follow hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Each week they post a prompt, which you respond to, and then spend some time visiting and following other blogs (the following is an important part). Feel free to join in – it’s fun and a great way to meet other bloggers.

This weeks prompt is…

What was the first book that moved you? Scared you, made you cry, disturbed your view of the world?

Normally, I would answer this with the first book that really scared me.  Unfortunately, I talked about this last week in the Feature and Follow as it is also one of the only books I re-read regularly – Dracula (I am if nothing else consistent in my picks I guess).

This leaves a problem as most of the books I read are crime fiction, mysteries, or thrillers – which means there aren’t many book I’ve read that have made me cry or left with a disturbed view of the world (though there are some that have really made me think and view the world differently as a result).  So, I have really had to wrack my brain to think of an answer of this.  What I’ve come up with is the only book I can think of that really made me cry – and it was a long time ago.

I feel like there should be a drum roll now but here it is…Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurty which came out in 1975 and I probably read in the early 80’s when I was a teenager and so prone to bouts of emotion.  I haven’t read it since and I’ve never seen the movie and, if I’m honest, I don’t really remember much about it other than it choked me up from pretty much the beginning.  Reading the description on Goodreads I’m not surprised…

317843In this acclaimed novel that inspired the Academy Award-winning motion picture, Larry McMurtry created two unforgettable characters who won the hearts of readers and moviegoers everywhere: Aurora Greenway and her daughter Emma.  Aurora is the kind of woman who makes the whole world orbit around her, including a string of devoted suitors. Widowed and overprotective of her daughter, Aurora adapts at her own pace until life sends two enormous challenges her way: Emma’s hasty marriage and subsequent battle with cancer. Terms of Endearment is the Oscar-winning story of a memorable mother and her feisty daughter and their struggle to find the courage and humour to live through life’s hazards — and to love each other as never before.

Just reading this I’m not surprised I started crying – and it may be one of the reasons I now stick with less emotional, more murderous, fare.  What about you – what book has scared you, made you cry or changed your view of the world.

Emma

Library Love: let me count the ways

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”
–Albert Einstein

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Yesterday I had to guiltily take back a library book for my daughter that was overdue by two months.  I had taken back all our other books but this one had slipped through the cracks.  Expecting a huge fine (which I rightly should have paid) I was really surprised – pleasantly so – that there was none because by daughter is, well, a child.  Children don’t get fined if they don’t take their books back because, as the librarian explained, they want them to grow up with a love of reading and not worried about potential fines.

It just reminded me, again, of why I love my local library – all libraries in fact, having been a huge lender all my life.  So I thought I would share my love and list all the reasons I think libraries are great…

They are free for anyone who wants to use them for however long you want to use them.  For someone like me, who tends to be quite cheap and watch my pennies, this is  god-send.  For people on limited incomes who can’t afford books but love to read or want to learn, they must be more so.

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They offer variety, loaning out “real” books, ebooks and audio books so there is something to suit everyone’s reading style / preference and, if there is a book you must have, with the range of formats you should be able to get hold of a copy pretty easily and quickly.  Then there is the range of subjects – fiction and non-fiction, history, arts, travel, culture, chick-lit, children’s books, young adult and on and on and on the list goes.

They are about more than books they are places where people can meet up, take part in hobbies (mine hosts knitting groups, history groups and a book club), where parents can take their children (mine has play and stay groups every day of the week), and where local community activities can be supported (again, mine hold open mike and comedy nights for local acts).  Libraries are at the heart of communities.

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They treat people equally because money is no object at a library (unless you are like me and forget to take them back so there are fines).  You don’t have to pay for membership or be rich to access books.  You just have to be able to get there and get through the door or, as is the case nowadays, get online to access their catalogue.

Going back to the point of their being free, it means anyone can access knowledge, and the fact that they are more than books, including social inclusion for the lonely and internet access for those who don’t have it (vital in today’s society).  They mean everyone can fully engage with the world without the barrier of money, age, gender or race.

They are accessible or at least most are, providing online access to those who can’t get to a physical building but still want to read books and using mobile libraries to get to hard to reach / rural communities.  I still remember living miles out of town and the mobile library turning up once a month.  I might be a book nerd but it really was a highlight and meant I could access books and open up whole new worlds I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

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They don’t throw you out for just sitting and reading a book which you cannot do in a book store without risk of someone coming and asking if they can help you with anything or giving you knowing looks that say “you are planning on buying that and not just reading it aren’t you?”

Authors still get paid through something called public lending right, every time you lend a book, this is recorded and monies paid out (just something to think about when you are buying a second hand book you could otherwise have loaned and which doesn’t pay the author).

You can get cool library cards or at least you can at my library.  It’s pink and black and makes me happy when I take it out to loan books.

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They make searching for books more exciting because you never know what you are going to find.  It isn’t always going to be new books, or best sellers or books that bookshops prominently display so you’ll buy them.

It’s guilt free because it hasn’t cost you anything.  How many times have you ploughed through a book because you bought it and felt you had to or because it was a review copy and you were obliged?  With library books, if you don’t like them, don’t finish them.  There is nothing to lose (which means you can also take  risk on  books you might not otherwise pick up).

And that’s it, my reasons for using the library.  There are more but these are the ones that popped into my head.  What about you, do you use the library…and if you don’t, why not give it a go…you won’t be disappointed I’m sure.

Emma

note: images used were shown as copyright free through pixabay; if this is not the case, please contact me and I will remove.

#FF : Favourite Winter Setting

feature-and-followAfter coming across Feature & Follow Friday on Closet Geek Book Group earlier today, I couldn’t resit heading over to check out the link and what others had to say.  Then, as I wasn’t sure what to post today, I decided I had to in; it looks fun and ’tis the season after all…

The question that caught my eye was…

What is your favourite book set in a winter world?

The first thing that popped into my mind?

317500The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, one of my favourite books from childhood (in fact the whole series but given the theme, this had to be the one I chose) and one I’ve read way more than once.

I remember reading it and loving the idea of being able to escape the real world and enter one where I could be someone else, someone brave and clever and world-saving.  The escapism sums up why I still love reading books.

I also remember really liking the white witch, which I know I shouldn’t but she was pretty compelling and oh so evil.  Of all the characters, she’s the one I have an image of that I can never shake and that no TV show or film has ever managed to match.

The only downside – all that winter but no Christmas!

As an adult, I don’t read fantasy books or books set in other worlds very often but every now and again one catches my eye and imagination.

T15932273he Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is one of those and has the perfect winter setting, remote Alaska in the 1920s and the perfect character in Faina, a girl who seems to have been made from ice and snow and who changes the life of a lonely, childless couple.

The setting was beautiful, the language gorgeous, and the story one I hadn’t read before, drawing me in and not letting me go until the end – when I may have shed a tear or two (but don’t tell anyone).

For a woman who mainly reads about murder, it is one of those books that was a welcome change but it is also one that has never left me and I often find myself recommending to others.

And there they are my favourite winter settings in book form.  What are your?

Emma

My A to Z of books

Earlier this week, I updated my A to Z list of reviews published since I started my blog.  Scrolling through, it got me thinking about all the books I’ve read in the last few years, how similar they are an how different.  As it’s Friday and I had no review to post, I thought it would be fun to share some of the things that jumped out at me reading through…

I really like reading about murder, and crime fiction makes up the largest share of the list closely followed by thrillers/suspense.  I can’t resist a bit of murder and mayhem it seems, especially police procedurals.  My favourite books with a body count are…

 

Pop Goes The Weasel by M. J. Arlidge, the second in the Helen Grace series, this one had me feeling sympathy for the killer as well as the victims – hard to do

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza, the first in the Erika Foster series that has a brilliantly opening that sets the scene for the rest of the book

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson, a modern twist on strangers on the train that still keeps popping into my head months later

Why Did You Lie? by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, the first book I’ve read set in Iceland but hopefully not the last if this clever story with it’s claustrophobic setting is anything to go by

Salt River by James Sallis, though I could have picked any of this trilogy featuring a small town sheriff with a dark past.

The most common letter is T, closely followed by A.  That’s because a lot of books start with The or A.  There are 74 books that start with the letter T and 69 start with The.  My favourite of these?  Hard to say but ones that stand out are…

A26 by Pascal Garnier, a dark tale and a grim setting that drew me in and wouldn’t let me go.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan, which was sadder than I thought it would be and morally complex.

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker, a story that was a lot different than the one I expected and much more interesting as a result.

The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson with it’s quirky take on office politics and conformity.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang which gave me an insight into Korean society and it’s codes and social morals

Girls are really popular in the books I read, not women but girls.  It has been a general theme in recent years and I suspect this would apply to quite a few of you out there.  My favourites were…

Cinderella Girl by Carin Gerhardsen, a clever take on a police procedural that involves a missing child and abandoned baby.

Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro, a novel that reads like a collection of short stories that provide snapshots from the life of one young girl as she grows up to be a woman

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, which I didn’t think I’d like as much as I did as an unreliable witness tries to convince people she has witnessed a crime

The Girls by Emma Cline, a beautifully written story based on the Manson family about a young girls almost disastrous involvement with them

Lost Girls by Robert Kolker, my first foray into true crime, this looks at the investigation into the Long Island serial killer and five of his/her victims

Names also seem to feature quite heavily, with Emma being the most popular one.  My favourites were…

Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway by Sara Gran, a detective with a difference and crimes that are off the wall

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, a wonderful story and a clever idea with an old lady with dementia trying to find her missing friend

Watching Edie by Camilla Way, with shades of single white female, this is a thriller about childhood friends and obsession

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton, my first ever cozy and I loved it with it’s fun characters and Cotswold setting

Sebastian Bergman by Michael Hjor, my first ever review on the blog, this is a Scandinavian crime thriller with a psychologist who is a profiler unwillingly dragged back into his job with the national police

And finally in the recurring themes is family, always a juicy subject for authors as so many are dysfunctional and most hold secrets.  My favourites were….

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver, which looks at the American (and our) epidemic of obesity, told by a sister who is watching her brother slowly eat himself to death

Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller, one of the most different books I’ve read with a wild central character (Freedom) looking for her long abandoned children when she finds out they are in danger

Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas with one of the most manipulative mothers I have ever come across who treats her children shockingly

My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni, the first in a series staring a great female detective who is trying to find out what happened to her long lost sister

The Mistress’s Daughter by A. M. Homes, the true story of one of my favourite author’s encounters with the parents who gave her up for adoption – you might not believe it if it was fiction

And that’s it for now.  Do you read in themes? If so, what ones?

Emma

 

 

 

 

Books I never seem to be able to finish…

As an avid reader, I am also a fairly avid did-not-finisher (I know, not a real word but it’s the best I could come up with).  It’s one of the reasons I love the library – the lack of guilt if I start a book then don’t finish it because it’s not for me.  Occasionally though I do feel guilt.  There are books I want to read.  I just can’t, for whatever reason.

Doing a bit of a tidy up of my TBR recently, I pondered on some of these and if they should still be on there or if I should just give up the ghost.  Five in particular stood out as having been started, stopped, started and stopped more times that I can count.  In no particular order they are…

clicking on the cover will take you to a good reads synopsis

12360601Possession by A. S. Byatt

I feel I should read it because everyone who reads it says it’s brilliant, including my boss who has read it I don’t know how many times (a lot!) and raves about it constantly, saying she discovered something new every time.

I end up putting it down because I can’t get past the first few chapters.  There is a story within a story that confuses me and poetry I find myself skipping through.   I don’t like the characters and can’t get away with the language which I find way too flowery and fancy.  Plus it’s a love story, which I don’t normally read.

437135Bleak House by Charles Dickens

I feel I should read it because I have never read any Dickens (bar a Christmas Carol) and this is supposed to be one of the best.  Plus I remember watching it on TV and enjoying it.  I know it’s a great, complex, plot and also darkly funny so it should be a hit for me.

I end up putting it down because it seems to be taking so long to read.  The language takes time to understand and absorb and whilst in other classics this isn’t a problem with Dickens I find I end up losing interest.  I put it down only to have forgotten enough of the plot by the next time I pick it up to find I’m starting it again.  And so the cycle continues.

imageThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

I feel I should read it because from the bit I have read (actually more than a bit, I made it through 2/3rds this last time) I know it is beautifully written and it’s a story that fascinates me.  The early chapters draw me in straight away and convince me this is a book I will love.  Then something goes wrong.

I end up putting it down because there are times when it just drags.  The beautifully written paragraphs go on a long time and if I don’t have that same amount of time to dedicate to them I put it down for another day.  Do I get bored?  Possibly, a little.

18343181The Death of a President by William Manchester

I feel I should read this because, to the best of my knowledge, it was the first book written about the Kennedy assassination and Manchester was given access to all the key figures involved in a way that hasn’t happened since.

I end up putting it down because it’s incredibly detailed and they are details I can’t keep in my head (too many code names, locations, historical facts).  Of all the books I’ve tried to read and retried to read, this has been on the list the longest.  I have an original addition – “stolen” from an uncle when I was 13 and it’s been on my bookshelf ever since.

12703 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I feel I should read this because I’m convinced I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t – especially when I see the shock on people’s faces when I tell them – and because I want to “get it” when people talk about Heathcliff.

I end up putting it down because I just don’t get it.  I find it hard to stay interested even beyond the first chapter and just don’t see what the fuss is about.  I have been told it’s because I didn’t read it as an impressionable teen and that I just have to keep at it.  I wonder, though, if any book you have to keep at is worth reading?

And I suppose that’s the question with all of these – should I still be bothering?  Is there really a need to read any book just because you think you should or someone else tells you you should?  Should I just say no more to picking them up and spend my time on something more productive instead (heck, filing my nails would be more productive with these books at times)?  What do you think?  Do I give them another go?

Emma