Love it or hate it: Last Minute Read-A-Thon

Today’s challenge for the Last Minute Read-A-Thon is to post covers that you love and ones that you hate. I could gush forever about this really so I’ve chosen just one of each. These two aren’t particularly representative of what I usually love or hate in a cover but they have made strong impressions in my mind and leapt in to my head as soon as I read the description of this challenge.

I love:


Penguin Modern Classics edition of George Orwell’s 1984.

I have a thing for minimalism and of course the apparent censorship ties in well with the book themes, making it perfect for this book. In general I’m not a fan of this style of Penguin books but I think this shows how such a simple thing can work so well and make such sense in context.

I hate:


The original cover for William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

I find the drawing style ugly and the choice of colours are washed out and ugly. I would never have picked this up to read of my own accord.

I’m off back to my books now. The Great Gatsby turned out to be a bit of a slog in the end and what had a promising beginning started to fizzle out for me. Hopefully Gypsy Boy will bring more interest!

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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in All, Read-A-Thon


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Rainbow Spine: Last Minute Read-A-Thon


Today’s read-a-thon challenge is Rainbow Spine: “Grab books from your shelf that have the following spine colors to make a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & violet.” I don’t have a massive number of books on my shelf as I don’t have the space for storage so apart from a select few I tend to give them away once I’m done reading so I struggled to find the right colours. So many red and black books, so few green.

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Red: “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini. One of my all time favourites and one I will read over and over again. Devastating but absolutely gripping.

Orange: “The Other Hand” by Chris Cleave. I haven’t read this yet and it was one of the books I had provisionally listed in to this challenge but I just wouldn’t have had time to get through it with the other four.

Yellow: “Mr Stink” by David Walliams. I read “The Boy in the Dress” by the same author and enjoyed it so I’m looking forward to this.

Green: AQA A2 Music Study guide, Rhinegold publishing. I struggled to find anything green on my bookshelf and this is the closest I could get! Does what it says on the tin.

Blue: “The Language of Flowers: a miscellany” by Mandy Kirkby. This is a gorgeous book with some beautiful illustrations inside which is why I keep it around.

Violet: “A Surfgirl’s Guide to Surfing”. Back in the day I used to go surfing and although it has been a while I keep this in case I ever want to brush up and get back out.

As for the actual Read-A-Thon? I didn’t get much done yesterday as there was a lot of travelling and family time, which was expected, so I’ll be catching up today.


Posted by on December 27, 2013 in All, Read-A-Thon


And the Last Minute Read-A-Thon begins!

Today is the first day of the Last Minute Read-A-Thon and so I will be sharing with you all what my plans are for this event.


There are four books I’m planning to read during this time, all in paperback. As much as I love my kindle and ebooks, it does mean that the paperback books I buy tend to get pushed to the back of my list as the ease of popping my kindle in to my bag knowing I have a multitude of choices for whatever mood I’m in leaves my paperbacks stuck on my TBR shelf.

1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie


I bought this in a bit of a book buying binge earlier this year when I walked in to Waterstones planning to buy as many books from as many different genres as possible and had great fun skipping around the different sections choosing what to get. I have very fond memories of buying books on this day as another customer had noticed me exploring every inch of every bookshelf and offered, in a very friendly way, some suggestions. Although this wasn’t one of those suggestions , it has left a vivid memory of buying this book. I have never read  any of Agatha Christie’s works before now and feel that it’s about time I did.

2. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro


This was bought second hand at my local Church’s Spring Fayre.  I’m really looking forward to this as I read another book by Ishiguro last year, though it was a book of short stories, called “Nocturnes”. They were charming little stories about music and night that I enjoyed for some light reading so I’m hoping that I’ll enjoy this having already enjoyed another of the author’s works.

3. Gypsy boy by Mikey Walsh


This one was also picked up at the Church Fayre. It is not something I would have normally picked up for myself in a shop but my Mom adores books like these so I decided that, even if I didn’t read it, it would make a nice gift for her. Turns out she had already read it on her kindle but she gave it very high praises so I am going to finally take the plunge and give it a go. I’ve read a lot of varied reviews on this so I’m looking forward to adding my own thoughts once I am done.

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


This may be last on the list, but it is the one I will be reading first. I am already halfway through and was enjoying it very much up to the point that I reached but then for some reason I just stopped. I think perhaps I got distracted by another shiny looking book. I’d just like to point out how much I love this edition for its cover art! The pages are yellow round the edge too, and in fact I just adore the look of the book in general. I got this in the summer from a gorgeous bookshop in Corbridge called FORUM Books. Unfortunately I haven’t had chance to return as I don’t have much reason to go to Corbridge and it is a long way for me to travel to go for the book store alone but if you happen to be around there be sure to check it out.

So there we have it, four books over four days! I’m trying my best not to be distracted by the shiny new books I received for Christmas but I’ll just have to be strict with myself and keep those hidden in a corner whilst I finish these. So many books, so little time…

What have you ended up with in your “To be read” pile at the end of this year? Did you get through all the books you wanted to or did you get far less reading done than you’d hoped? Let me know in the comments section!


Posted by on December 26, 2013 in Read-A-Thon


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Books under the Christmas tree

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you’re all having a fantastic day. I’ve had a lovely morning and lunch with my family and now we’re all sat down to watch a new DVD as I type this up. I thought that I would share the books I received as gifts today with everyone.

1. This book is full of spiders by David Wong


I read “John Dies at the End” earlier this year and couldn’t put it down, so I have been wanting this for a while but Mam was heavily hinting that she had bought me it already so I held off getting it. I can’t wait to see if this is as good as the first was!

2. Music and Gender – Perspectives from the Mediterranean, edited by Tullia Magrini


Gender in music is a subject within music that I am fascinated with and I noticed this particular book on the bookshelf of a friends flat and I couldn’t resist borrowing it to read and got hooked. Unfortunately she had to take it back to her university library and it was a bit too expensive for me to buy it at the time, so I’m excited to finally have my own copy to finish it off.

3. Just Joking published by National Geographic


I do voluntary work as a reading helper in a local primary school through an organisation called Beanstalk (which I will be blogging about soon!). The present was marked as from “Santa” so thank you Santa, I know that my children will have a lot of fun with these jokes and riddles!

4 & 5 Les Bonnes – Genet and Buch der Lieder – Heine

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I can’t say a lot about these two – I’m learning French and German and having literature to translate I find very exciting, though I imagine I won’t be able to get read them fluently for a while.

6. Kindle Paperwhite


This was a massive and exciting surprise! I was bought this so that I can “read in bed without having to use a torch any more”. I’m not sure how I feel about the touch screen; some things are easier, others harder, but I’ll give a full review of this verses my old Kindle sometime soon.

Well, that was what I found under my Christmas tree – leave me a comment to let me know what you got!

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Posted by on December 25, 2013 in All


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Last Minute Read-A-Thon

This is a sign-up post to take part in the Last Minute Read-A-Thon!


Hosted by Vonnie’s Reading Corner and A Night’s Dream of Books

The requirements are as follows:

> A sign-up post is required

> There must be the hosts’ button with links to the hosts pages

> Once it begins, a launch post with plans/goals is needed

There are also some challenges, so expect me to be posting these throughout!

26th December – The required launch post with planned reads/goals post

27th December – Rainbow Book Spine… Grab books from your shelf with spines in the following colours to make a rainbow: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Violet

28th December – Love it or hate it… Post up book covers explaining why you love or hate them

29th December – Remembering 2013… Best book or 2013? Worst book of 2013? Favourite new author? Book that surprised you? Book that disappointed you?

30th December – Wrap up post

I look forward to taking part in this, I’ve got so many books I’d hoped to finish by the end of the year but didn’t, I’ll have a lot of fun in the choosing of them alone. See you on the other side!


Posted by on December 23, 2013 in All, Read-A-Thon


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Wenceslas by Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy is one of my favourite poets. It was her poem “Education for leisure” which first gave me an interest in poetry and I have always found her poems both entertaining and thought provoking. So when I was sent Wenceslas as a gift via SoPost and Blackwells, I was very excited to read it. In this poem she takes the story of Good King Wenceslas and rewrites it. I have seen it described as a “reimagining” but I don’t think I agree that she has done anything interesting enough with the story to warrant that description.


It starts with a rich description of the feast being prepared for Wenceslas, with a lot of attention lavished upon the bird pie. I felt as though there was some Keatsian influence here, certainly a very sumptuous description of the food  that you might expect from Romantic poetry. It was a wonderful sensual overload but once we got to the body of the story, as Wenceslas notices the poor man in the snow, the promising start seems to trail away and it feels like not much attention is given to the end. Unfortunately this lack of focus on what I see as the heart of the story left me feeling cheated and let down; after such great detail the first half of the book, for the rest of the story to be so scarce was a disappointment. Others may find it refreshing to focus on the feast which is often left with little description in other tellings of this story but for me, although the feast scene was magnificently written, I would have liked more focus on the poor man and the invitation for him to join them.

However, I need to say what a beautiful book it is. It is only a little bigger than my hand but richly decorated, with gold embossed title and cover and containing vivid illustrations throughout. The visual beauty of this little book will guarantee it a place on my bookshelf for the next few years at least. I will be keeping an eye out for Stuart Kolakovic’s illustrations in the future as they are what really make this book a worthwhile purchase.

It is an ideal stocking filler, being very pleasing to look at, and could be a nice introduction to Carol Ann Duffy, but it is not the greatest of her works and certainly not ground breaking or something to rave about.


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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Poetry


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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

My first encounter with Dickens was during a school English class. We were required to write an essay on “Great Expectations” and I distinctly remember the painstakingly detailed analysis of the first sentence of the book, taking the teacher an hour of a lesson to repeatedly tear this one sentence to pieces and laud the values of using such long descriptive sentences. How we ever got past the first page I do not know. Not exactly the most positive of encounters and one which left me wary of Dickens’ writing. But, with Christmas coming up, and the excitement of the traditional family viewing of “The Muppet Christmas Carol”, I decided it was time to put aside my prejudices and give the original “A Christmas Carol” a try. And, wow, I am glad I did.

Scrooge begins the novel as the very antithesis of anything and everything deemed to be part of the Christmas spirit – he is cold towards others, greedy in his hoarding of wealth, and logical to a fault. After mean hearted encounters during Christmas Eve he returns home to find his old (and very dead) business partner appearing around the house. He is warned that three spirits will come and, as they do, he finds himself repenting first of his actions earlier that day and eventually of his entire outlook and life, changing completely through ghastly visions.

It is overall a well paced book that kept me wanting more. With particularly luscious descriptions of place creating great atmosphere throughout, whether at Scrooge’s dismal shop or the warmth filled Cratchit household, I was always able to easily conjure up a vivid impression of what was happening. The syntax of the prose flowed well and I never found myself distracted or put off by it so I was able to fully immerse myself in the story despite my earlier worries.

I felt myself changed for the better by the time I reached the end of the book, taking on board some of the Spirits’ lessons myself I think! I was particularly affected by Tiny Tim, as I’m sure so many who read this are, and I think his few appearances in the book will linger with me for a while to come. Often some of the best experiences are ones when we come away feeling like we have gained or lost something, whatever that something might be, and reading this book was definitely one of those experiences for me.

However I felt that Scrooge’s change of outlook seemed very quick for someone who was meant to have spent so many years of his life as an icy hearted man, almost to the point that I found it a bit hard to believe. Perhaps I just didn’t find the spirits intimidating enough or am too cynical about what could be changed in such a short space of time. This was a forgiveable qualm though for such a short story with little space to truly explore the way he changed.

I did hugely enjoy this read and would definitely recommend it to anyone. In particular if you’re looking for a good Christmas read and haven’t read it before now, be sure to do so. I found it a lot faster paced and enjoyable than some movie adaptations I have seen, so don’t assume you already know the story as intended, and it could be a very easy way to ease yourself in to learning to love Dickens, as well as bolstering up some warm hearted Christmas spirit. It won’t take a long time to get through and if you’re still unsure whether you want to try it or not, there are many places you can pick it up for free online so you won’t be lose anything by giving it a go!


“He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.” 

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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Classical literature


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