Archive of ‘books’ category

Jane loves blogging

Hello all
I’ve missed a week of the postaweek challenge again! I have no real excuse this time, except that the computer I use primarily is a bit temperamental, so the actual posting can be difficult sometimes. But I’m back this week.
What is the last good book you read?
I’m an avid reader, I love books and I don’t think I could live without reading. I’ve always got a book on the go, and I usually read at least once a day. But sometimes I go through stages where I read even more voraciously than usual. And I’m currently going through one of these phases now. I have a Books tab at the top of this page, and I’m updating it with all the books I read in 2011. My total is at 25 so far, and that includes everything, including the children’s books that I love, and all the books I have read before. Looking at my list, I can see that I was obviously going through a greedy-reading phase at the start of the year (I read eight books in January), and, as I said, now. I’ve read three books since the start of the month, and two of them in the last two days.
So I thought I’d give you a brief review of the last book I read, which I finished about twenty minutes ago. It’s called The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson.
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The Chocolate Run is a story about Amber, a young woman, living in Leeds, who has been friends with Greg for a few years. They are friends because their own best friends are in a relationship, and they were kind of thrown together. As the book begins, they have just slept together for the first time, and Amber can’t decide whether or not she’s just made a huge mistake. Greg’s a womaniser, a tart, a serial shagger – he’s not a man that she ever imagined sleeping with, never mind beginning a tentative relationship with.
As the title may indicate, chocolate plays a part in the story. Amber isn’t a chocoholic, she’s more like a chocolate connoisseur. She appreciates everything about chocolate; not just its taste, but the way it smells, looks, feels. The book is actually much less about chocolate that I thought it would be, based on the title. Amber judges people in terms of chocolate, someone might be a Flake, where someone else might be a very expensive dark chocolate. But it doesn’t play a huge part in the plot of the novel.
At the end of the day, The Chocolate Run (which was published in 2004) was never going to win any awards for high-brow literature, nor is the ending any great surprise: you don’t read chick-lit without being able to guess at the ending from about halfway through the book. But it’s entertaining, and it is kind of nice to read a book that is about a woman who has some commitment issues, rather than it always been about the man who is reluctant to settle down. It’s also refreshing to read a book of this type that is set outside London. OK, so all involved have good jobs and nobody is short of money, but it’s still nice to read about a different city.
I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a simple, romantic story – I read it in just under a day, because I was enjoying it and wanted to find out exactly how it would end. I’m about to read Mister Pip next, which I understand will be a slightly different kettle of fish.
Until next time

Jane loves celebrations

Hello all

Apparently, today is Tolkien Reading Day! Who knew that such a day existed? I certainly didn’t. Apparently March 25th is date from the books, the date of the downfall of Sauron, and that is why it was chosen. Other important dates, such as Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday (September 22nd) and Tolkien’s birthday (January 3rd) already have events that regularly happen, so March 25th was fixed upon by The Tolkien Society. It started in 2003, and is simply designed to encourage people to read Tolkien, whether it be for the first time or the fiftieth time.

To celebrate, I thought I’d feature some difference covers of The Lord of the Rings.

LOTR - Fantastic Fiction - Green ~ source ~

LOTR - Borders 1 ~ source ~

LOTR - Borders 2 ~ source ~

LOTR - Borders 3~ source ~

LOTR - Borders 4 ~ source ~

FOTR - Ace Books - My Site ~ source ~

TTT - Ace Books - My Site~ source ~

ROTK - Ace Books - My Site ~ source ~

LOTR Scrapbook Film~ source ~

I’m off to finish rereading The Hobbit. Until next time!

janey26

Jane loves blogging

Hello all

It seems like all I do lately is apologise for silences of one type or another! I do apologise for this one though, I was away at the weekend, and got back later than I thought I would, and then yesterday came and went without me being able to think of an attractive man to share with you all. All will be well from now on though, I won’t disappear again without letting you know first!

It’s time for my weekly post then, and I found a WordPress prompt that I liked this week. At least, I found one that I am going to adapt to my own purposes! It’s topic #68:

Name a Book that Changed Your Life

I don’t know that a book has ever really changed my life. There are books that I have read (and re-read), that I love and adore, and I am glad that they are a part of my life. But I’m not sure that any books have ever really changed my life, in a meaningful way. But I read a book this weekend that I enjoyed so much, and I want everyone else to read it (if they haven’t already, it’s been out for almost two years).

One Dayjpg ~ source ~

One Day is a novel by David Nicholls. You may recall from my post about the launch of World Book Night that I saw David Nicholls reading from this book in Trafalgar Square, as it is one of the 25 books that were being given away. You may also recall that I won a book on Twitter, and that this was the book that I got.

Without giving too much away, One Day is about two people, Emma and Dexter, who meet on the day of their graduation from university, on 15th July 1988. The book then catches up with them on the same day for the next 20 years. Emma and Dexter clearly have feelings for each other, but settle into a close friendship that lasts for almost the entire novel. Relationships come and go but Emma and Dexter remain friends for the most part, and you’ll have to read it to find out if they end up together!

The thing that makes the book stand out is the use of one day a year to tell a story. It means that quite often, we don’t get to see firsthand what happens to the characters. For example, in 1989, Dexter’s mum tells him that she has something she needs to talk to him about, and while we might guess what it is she needs to say, we don’t hear her say it, and we don’t actually find out what it was until 1993. We don’t see weddings, deaths, births, major life events, because none of them take place on 15th July, so we have to hear about them later. It doesn’t seem as though it should work, how are we going to care about these characters if we don’t see them experiencing their highs and their lows. But it really, really does work. It works so well.

There is almost an element of missed opportunities to the story too – Dexter writes Emma a letter from Bombay telling her that she needs to get out of the rut that she has found herself in since she left university, and invites her to join him in India. However, the letter never reaches her, and she doesn’t go to India. You wonder how different both their lives would have been if she had, as you read the book, but you come to realise that it would possibly have actually been Dexter’s life that would have been changed for the better had the letter reached her, as their trajectories start moving in completely opposite directions once Emma realises what she wants to do with her life.

One Day is currently getting the Hollywood treatment, with a film adapation set to be released in September of this year. Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess are taking on the lead roles, and I have high hopes.

One-Day-movie-poster ~ source ~

There are many reasons why I think that this should be a great adaptation of a great book.

1. David Nicholls has written the screenplay.

2. Anne Hathaway is a very watchable actress.

3. The location has not been changed to America, as happens so often with book adaptations.

4. Lone Scherfig is directing, and whilst I haven’t seen it, I’ve heard lots of good things about An Education.

5. The source material is so good to begin with, how can they go wrong?

OK, so I know that the last point is questionable, because let’s face it, there have been many bad films that have come from great books. But I really do feel that this is going to be great. I was checking IMDB to see who was going to be playing the other parts, and unwisely, I decided to take a look at the message boards. Message boards and comments sections are usually places to be avoided, as far as I am concerned, simply because I so often disagree with what people are saying, and I hate the way people choose to express their opinions. I don’t know why I decided to look at them this time, but I did, and unsurprisingly, I got irritated! People are worried that Anne Hathaway won’t do the role of Emma justice, and more than that, they are worried that she won’t have a Yorkshire accent. Firstly, there is no reason to suggest that she won’t have a Yorkshire accent, as we’ve seen no footage of the film yet. Secondly, Emma loses her accent as the story goes on, as she lives outside of Yorkshire for longer than she lives there, and someone even comments on the change. And thirdly, her having a regional accent is not particularly important, as far as I am concerned. Admittedly, it is used to show a class divide between Emma and Dexter; she comes from a working class background whilst his is much more middle class. But she doesn’t have to be from Yorkshire in order for that to come across. I think people concentrate too much on the little things, especially before the film has even come out, when it needs to be judged as a whole. And frankly, if a film adaptation of your favourite book is disappointing (which let’s face it, they often are because we have such a vivid image in our head of each and every character and location), forget the film and read the book again. I can’t understand people who are so offended by book adaptations when the book is still available for them to read! It’s a bit of a bugbear of mine, and I will wax lyrical about it to almost anyone who will listen!

Also, if you fancy it, David Nicholls has created a Spotify playlist of Emma’s mix tape that she makes for Dexter. Check it out!

So, One Day is a book that didn’t change my life, but has certainly afforded me a lot of pleasure over the last few days, and one that I would heartily recommend to everyone!

Until next time

janey26

Jane loves books

Hello all

On Friday night I was lucky enough to go to the World Book Night launch in Trafalgar Square. Last year I applied to be a giver, meaning that I had to tell the organisers which of the 25 books I wanted to give away, and why. I chose Toast, by Nigel Slater, which I read just after Christmas. I have another post planned to tell you all about who I gave it to, which I will post soon! World Book Night was on Saturday, and all givers were invited to apply for tickets to the launch night on Friday. I was lucky enough to get tickets, and I went with Rob.

The first photograph there is one of Rob’s, taken of me in front of the stage. I’m standing a bit ridiculously, I don’t know why! I like the other one though, because I like my hair in it! I thought I’d share some of the photographs I took, there were lots of authors there, as well as a few more famous faces.

Graham Norton was the compère, and he was very good! I love his Friday night show, and so it was very exciting to see him on the stage!

The first two photos are of DBC Pierre, who wrote a book that I read for university called Vernon God Little, and Rupert Everett. DBC Pierre read from Bleak House, and Rupert read from Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene.

These two photos are both of Sarah Waters, who read from her own book, Fingersmith. I have read some of Fingersmith, but I haven’t finished it. My friend Vicky lent it to me (along with another of Sarah Waters’ novels, The Night Watch), but there were a few pages loose in her copy, and a couple were missing. So I started it knowing that I was going to have to try and get my hands on a copy that had the missing pages, but didn’t actually finish it. I must try though, because it’s very good!

Alan Bennett! I got to see him reading from his book, A Life Like Other People’s, and he was just so good. It was worth how cold I got just to hear him read. As Graham Norton said, many people are referred to as national treasures these days, but Alan Bennett truly is one!

Lemn Sissay read Tennyson’s poem Ulysses and Boris Johnson, who came on to quite a few boos, decided to read about a hangover from Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. It was a very funny passage, and he also tried to win the crowd round by referring to London as the greatest city on earth. I’m not sure that it worked!

Mark Haddon read from Stuart: A Life Backwards, by Alexander Masters, about a homeless man. It was very good, and I now want to read it! The lady there is Monica Ali, who wrote Brick Lane, so thanks to those who helped me out and reminded me who she was! I can’t remember what she read from though! (Samantha has reminded me that Monica Ali read from To the Lighthouse.)

Margaret Atwood and Edna O’Brien also read; Atwood read from her novel The Blind Assassin which I really want to read, and O’Brien read a short story from her forthcoming collection.

Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, read from Beloved by Toni Morrison, another book I read at university, and Suggs read a John Betjeman poem. I’ve tried to remember what it is, but all I can remember is that it mentions a London cemetery in it. I’ve researched, but I can’t find it, so again, if you know what it is, please remind me! (Again, I’ve been reliably informed that it was To the Lighthouse – thanks Samantha!)

Other than Alan Bennett, David Nicholls was my favourite person to listen to! He read from his novel, One Day, which is one of the 25 books on the list, and he read so well! The part he read was a letter, and he just read it perfectly. I really want to read it, and now that I know of its existence, I keep seeing it everywhere! It’s also being made into a film, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, so I have to make sure I read it before the film comes out!

Philip Pullman read from Northern Lights, his book that is one of the 25 titles. I’ve read the His Dark Materials trilogy a number of times, so it was quite exciting to hear the author reading from it. Also very exciting was seeing Hayley Atwell and Stanley Tucci – Stanley Tucci more so, because I love him! I’ve like him in almost everything I see him in, which is one of many reasons why I don’t want to see The Lovely Bones! They read Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love, the song by Cole Porter, which was unusual as they were the only people to read something that wasn’t a poem or a book. They totally sold it though! And then when I got home, Stanley Tucci was on The Graham Norton Show, which was extra exciting!

Finally, we saw Nick Cave, and John Le Carré. Le Carré read from his novel The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, which I have heard lots of good things about, and which is also on the list of 25. Nick Cave read from Lolita.

This is a screenshot from The Culture Show from Saturday night; a special programme to launch World Book Night. I was watching it, and I saw myself! Literally nobody else would have known it was me, and I know it’s a bit sad to get excited about it, but I did, so I thought I would share it with you! That’s me, circled! Rob had gone to the toilet, and I was waiting for him, pacing up and down. I spotted myself straight away!

Being in Trafalgar Square in the early evening was great; the sun went down (and with it any warmth it had been providing), and the light was lovely. The words “World Book Night 2011” were beamed onto Nelson’s Column, and I couldn’t stop taking photographs of it as it got darker and darker!

I had such a good time, despite being freezing cold! Like I said, at some point I will post details of how I distributed my 48 books. I hope you’ve enjoyed this diversion from usual proceedings on my blog. Let me know if you’ve been involved in World Book Night, or if you were one of the one million people who received a book. I got a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera on Friday night, so that has been added to my ever-growing pile of books to read!

Until next time

Jane loves blogging

Hello all

Firstly, an apology. In the last week, I’ve deprived you of a ‘things’ round-up and a Tuesday Treat! I’m suffering ever so slightly from writer’s block at the moment, which is weird, considering that I wouldn’t have to reach too far into any kind of creativity to provide you with a list of things I want to buy, nor for a few pictures of a man I find especially attractive. But something has been stopping me from posting!

So it’s Wednesday, and therefore time for my weekly post. Last week’s was a bit of a non-event, it wasn’t the most interesting post I ever wrote (beginning of writers block). This week’s probably won’t be all that more interesting, but I want to do one so that I can get back into the groove of writing. This week, I’m not using a prompt, I’m just posting on something I wanted to write about. The BBC is currently having a books season – there are lots of programmes on and they are covering World Book Night (which I am involved in, more on that at a later date!). Every night for this week and the next, there is a programme called My Life in Books running on BBC2, with Anne Robinson talking to famous people about favourite books throughout their life. One of the categories that she asks about is favourite childhood book. I therefore decided to write about one of my favourites.

My favourite childhood book

I read a lot as a child, as lots of us did. I learnt to read before I went to school, and don’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read. There were obviously lots of books that I read and loved, or had read to me, and it’s hard to pick a favourite.

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As a young child, my favourites were a series featuring Alfie, by Shirley Hughes. I still love them now, the illustrations, also by Hughes, are so lovely, and the stories are simple but fun.

However, if I was to pick a book (or a series of books) that are my actual favourites, I’d have to pick Malory Towers by Enid Blyton. My sister had a 3-in-1 book (with a red cover) of the last three stories in the series, and I used to borrow that and read them. Then I remember finding the first three stories in another volume (with a pink cover) in a shop when I was on holiday, and I used my holiday money to buy it. I still have the red book, even though it technically belongs to my sister, but I don’t know where the pink one went. Luckily I have the first three books separately, so I have the entire series.

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For anyone who doesn’t know, Malory Towers is the story of Darrell Rivers, a girl who attends Malory Towers, a boarding school in Cornwall. The series follows Darrell through her time at the school, along with such friends as Sally, Alicia, Irene, Mary Lou and Gwen. Darrell and her friends begin the first book as, not surprisingly in a book called First Term at Malory Towers, first years at the boarding school; young, naïve and impressionable. Throughout the years that follow, they go through various ups and downs, make new friends, say goodbye to old ones, and play various pranks on their teachers. By the time the girls reach Last Term at Malory Towers, they are confident young women, and Darrell is set to study at the University of St. Andrews.

There are many reasons why I love this series so much. One is that, quite simply Enid Blyton wrote what children wanted to read. I read Malory Towers in the 1980s, some 40 years after they were first written, but they still captured my imagination. Enid Blyton books were an important part of many children’s childhoods, and even now, my nieces know and love Noddy, so the tradition continues.

Another reason for my love of Malory Towers is, very simply, the school setting. I can’t remember ever hating school. In fact, I can’t really remember ever not loving school. It’s not the coolest thing in the world to admit, but it’s true. I was never a rebel, I was almost always good, and I loved (and still do love) to learn. There wasn’t really much not to like about school. I can’t say that I would honestly have wanted to go to boarding school, but I didn’t need to, I could read Malory Towers. Besides, I can’t imagine that boarding school would have lived up to my expectations; if it wasn’t Cornwall in the late 1940s, it wasn’t for me.

The final reason to explain my love for this series is the central character of Darrell. Darrell is the best heroine, because she’s flawed. Her biggest flaw is her temper – she lets fly more than once during the series, she even pushes Sally Hope across the room at one point. Luckily Sally forgives her and they become best friends. Another time, she slaps Gwen (though most people would agree that ‘Dear Gwendoline Mary’ deserves everything she gets, and more). But Darrell knows that her hot temper gets her into trouble, and she realises that she has to learn to bring it under control. She is the most likeable character in the Malory Towers series, because she recognises her flaws and tries her hardest to be a better person. She ends the series as Head Girl of the Sixth Form, and, as I previously mentioned, takes a place at university to continue her studies.

Writing about my love for this series has made me realise that I want to read them all again! If I ever have a daughter, I’m going to insist that she reads Malory Towers; in the meantime I might give it a few years and then introduce my nieces to the books.

Until next time!

 

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