Saturday, 26 May 2012

Quiet time coming up...

So Boyfriend and I have been on holiday and had a wonderful time - Tallinn is a beautiful city and much history, culture, food and drink was indulged in.  

This isn't, however, a post for me to revel in holiday goodness and rejoice about the books I read.  It is instead a post to apologise for the fact that LitAddictedBrit will be very quiet for the coming week or so. Possibly longer...

Boyfriend and I were driving back from the airport yesterday evening and were involved in a pretty horrific car accident that involved our car, two other cars and two lorries.  Miraculously, Boyfriend and me and all of the other people involved walked out of the accident largely unhurt (except for some friction burns and bruises and the like...) and I am so so so thankful for modern car technology, among many other things, obviously!  I am also sorry if you happened to be stuck in the ensuing traffic jam on the M62 yesterday evening :-s  Unfortunately, despite not having any major injuries, I am feeling rather...ropey and concentrating on writing out reviews is beyond my limits at the moment.  There will be a lag in my responding to any emails and the like too so please be assured that I'm not simply being rude. 

I toyed with the idea of not posting anything but I wanted to make sure that anybody that stopped by knew why things were quiet and writing it out has proven strangely cathartic.  So yes, some rest and quiet time around here and I'll be back raving about the books I read while on holiday :) 

Happy reading over the next few weeks, lovely fellow bloggers!!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Holiday Time: What to read?!

Image from DavidsBeenHere.com
Tomorrow will be my Bout of Books Read-A-Thon post so before that, I'm squeezing in a moan about that familiar quandary: what to pack to read on holiday.  On Monday, Boyfriend and I fly to Estonia for four nights and I AM EXCITED!!

In my case, it's actually less about what to pack to read and more about what to choose to read, since I'll be travelling with my eReader - Boyfriend and I are flying with just hand luggage with an allowance of 10kg each. Much though I want to carry a library, I'm pretty sure that all of the pairs of shoes and accessories that I also want to take will push my allowance enough as it is!

Seeing as it's a city break, I'm pretty sure that we'll be walking around and looking at as much as it's physically possible to look at but, if our past holidays are anything to go by, there will also be a couple of afternoons sat in the sunshine, eating local food and drinking local beer and reading.  Plus, there's two four-hour flights and some hanging around at airports so I'm obviously in need of some good reading material!

I have tons of books stored on my eReader that I want to get to at some point but I'm getting so excited about all of the options and by having a whole week off to read them in!  To alleviate the pressure, I'm posting a ton of pictures of the options that I have in the hope that someone will go "[x] is AMAZING - read it now!" and I can just go "Ok..."


The Final Empire (Mistborn: Book One) by Brandon Sanderson
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One) by George R.R.Martin
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde


TimeRiders (TimeRiders: Book One) by Alex Scarrow
A Discovery of Witches (All Souls trilogy: Book One) by Deborah Harkness
The Name of the Star (Shades of London: Book One) by Maureen Johnson


The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation: Book One) by Lauren Willig
Outlander (Outlander: Book One) by Diana Gabaldon

See what I mean?! Too many options!!  Feel free to suggest anything else if you think there's anything I must read right now.  Any help would be super :)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon Mini-Challenge - Bookish Confessions

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

Today's mini-challenge is hosted by Nyx Book Reviews

Participants in today's mini-challenge can either share a "shocking, embarrassing or funny book related story" OR play a little "This or That".  Since I can't call to mind an appropriate story for Part One of the challenge, I'll be playing along with Part Two...

Answer all of these "this or that" questions


Physical book or eBook?
Don't start throwing things please but...eBooks. Easier to hold, easier to turn pages with one hand and satisfy my need for instant gratification.

Paperback or Hardcover?
PAPERBACK!  Hardcovers are just too unwieldy and don't fit in my handbag.

Reality or Make-believe?
Make-believe.  Actual reality is enough reality for me, thanks.

Adult or Young-Adult?
Recent reading run aside, adult.

Dog ears or Bookmarks?
Dog ear one of my books and I will cut you out of my life (or, you know, come up with some other, more appropriate punishment).

Breaking the spine or Barely open the book?
Erm...isn't there a middle ground in which I can read a book properly without destroying it?

Tea or Coffee?
Tea makes me gip.  Good coffee is perfection.

Reading in bed or On the couch?
Sofa - if I read in bed, I usually fall asleep :-s

 Series or Standalone?
Both?  I tend to read more series but sometimes I want to read a full story without having to spend loads on a whole series or wait years for the next instalment.

Original or TV Adaptation?
Original.  I usually record series on TV if they're based on a book I want to read, hunt down the book, read it and then moan about how the TV adaptation isn't doing it justice. I know what you're thinking - I am just that much fun!

 Defy motion sickness or Audiobooks?
I've never had motion sickness and I hate being read to.  So I choose secret answer c): Reading while travelling but not necessarily in defiance

Author crushes or Who-was-that-guy-again?
I don't think I even understand this question so you can have another of these faces...:-s

Interview or Guest post?
Guest post, definitely

Happy read-a-thoning folks!  Good luck for Wednesday :)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon: The Update Post

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

It's here!  The Bout of Books Read-A-Thon for May 2012 officially started this morning and this will be my update post for the week.  I'll be keeping track of pages read as well as books read even though it might turn into a logistical nightmare just because I want a number that'll move fast. 

If you missed my sign-up post and what to read more about my plans for the week, you can find it here.

Monday 14 May
Pages read today:  (as of 9.46pm) 127 pages
Total pages read so far:  127 pages
Total books read so far:  Part of The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

Thoughts from Day 1 of the Read-A-Thon:  As I kind of expected, work got a little bit in the way but this evening I've read the first 127 pages of a wild-card library choice that has turned out to be not too bad at all!  I think there's plenty of mystery to keep things interesting over the next day or so and every now and then there are snippets that are wryly funny, so I'm a happy read-a-thoner.

Favour
ite quote of the day:
"And then she would be arrested...taken up by the Watch because of a watch. Yes, she reflected, a very amusing phrase.  You will probably laugh about it frequently when you are in prison" [Page 57]
I think it seemed funnier just because I wasn't expecting it and I'm pretty tired. Don't judge me.

Hope ever
yone else's read-a-thon is going swimmingly!



Tuesday 15 May
Pages read today:  Erm...*cough*8*cough*
Total pages read so far:  135 pages
Total books read so far:  Still on The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

Thoughts from Day 2 of the Read-A-Thon:  You might have noticed that it wasn't the most productive of days...I'd been at my desk all day so when I got home, I really wanted some fresh air and chose running instead of reading.  Not conducive to read-a-thon progress but made me feel better so I'm ok with it.


Wednesday 16 May
Pages read today:  (as of 9.52pm)  38 pages
Total pages read so far:  171 pages
Total books read so far:  That would still be The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

Thoughts from Day 3 of the Read-A-Thon:  It's weird looking at my page count because I actually thought that today was a lot more productive, reading-wise.  Still, the night isn't over yet and (when I've stopped being distracted by The Apprentice on TV) I'm taking myself off to bed to read some more.  Much though it doesn't look like it, I genuinely am enjoying the book I'm reading!  I'm out with some work friends tomorrow night so that's going to be less than read-a-thon-tastic but I'm looking forward to it!  I'll definitely be trying to squeeze something in at lunch and when I get back (unless I've had one too many celebratory glasses of wine...!).

Good luck for Day 4 Read-A-Thoners!


Thursday 17 May
Pages read today:  None...Oh, look over there - a bird! Yes, that's right...look away from the number.
Total pages read so far:  Still 171 pages
Total books read so far:  171 pages of The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

Thoughts from Day 4 of the Read-A-Thon:  Oh look - another bird! *ahem*...


Friday 18 May
Pages read today:  34 pages
Total pages read so far:  205 pages 
Total books read so far:  Gosh, this is getting old now - STILL The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

Thoughts from Day 5 of the Read-A-Thon:  I posted this disgraceful fact on Twitter but I got home full of good intentions, made some dinner, chatted to Boyfriend a bit, ate some sticky toffee pudding, had a glass of wine and curled up with a book at about 9.30ish.  Things were going great...until I fell asleep over said book at about 10.  I got woken up very unceremoniously by Boyfriend at midnight and dragged off to bed, mumbling something about wanting to just read a few more pages...oops!


Saturday 19 May
Pages read today:  233 pages (!!)
Total pages read so far:  438 pages
Total books read so far:  1 - FINALLY! 

Thoughts from Day 6 of the Read-A-Thon:  Today was a good day.  I'd read about 140 pages when I woke up early and was trying not to wake up Boyfriend and just stayed tucked up.  Despite my taking ages to read it, The Blackstone Key was actually very easy to read so just a few hours of not being distracted at work saw that off.  Sadly, I then couldn't decide what on earth to read and dithered about watching One Tree Hill and browsing the internet :-s  But I was definitely pleased with the day overall.


Sunday 20 May
Pages read today:  36 pages
Total pages read so far:  474 pages
Total books read so far:  1 and 36 pages of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

Thoughts from Day 7 of the Read-A-Thon:  It's not been a very productive day, reading wise, because I've been packing (and panicking about stuff not fitting!), driving over to my mum and dad's (I'm flying from near their house), visiting my younger sister in her new flat, going out for dinner and other such lovely but non-reading related activities!


So that's my Bout of Books, ladies and gentlemen!  I had a WONDERFUL time and it was so sociable and I got to find loads of new blogs and put aside more time for reading than I usually would.  LOVED. IT.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Bout of Books Readathon: Sign-up Post

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

So far this year, I seem to have come across some books that just weren't for me. I've gone from never not finishing a book once started to putting aside two in five months.  After the second, I got lucky last weekend, read two books that I sped through and really enjoyed and found my reading mojo again.  How could I not capitalise on that and plough right on into a read-a-thon?!

This one was created by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and now hosted on its very own blog HERE.  You can also follow the fun on Twitter using the hashtag #boutofbooks or following @boutofbooks.

My plan is actually to get through some of the 'real' books that I've let pile up while I've been distracted by my eReader.  I'm going on holiday next week so I'm planning on saving the eBooks I'm most excited about for then so that I can just travel with my eReader. At least, that's the plan at the moment :-s

The books that I definitely want to get to during the read-a-thon are:


The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan - An unusual looking historical fiction that I've had from the library for way too long.  I really want to return it before I go away!


Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - I really want to see how this series pans out! I know that people say neither of the later instalments live up to the glory of The Hunger Games but I need to know how the story ends!

I'm working all week, which means that for Monday to Friday I'll mostly only be reading in the evenings (except for a couple of lunch hours spend in the library, hopefully!). I'm keeping my goals pretty modest. 

If I come over all speed-ready and get through those I'll post another list of goals then.  Or just start grabbing at random, maybe!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Review: 'The Man in the Picture' by Susan Hill

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis

A mysterious depiction of masked revellers at the Venice carnival hangs in the college rooms of Oliver's old professor in Cambridge. On this cold winter's night, its eerie secret is revealed by the ageing don. The dark art of the Venetian scene, instead of imitating life, has the power to entrap it. To stare into the painting is to play dangerously with the unseen demons it hides, and become the victim of its macabre beauty.



Review

I've had an up-and-down relationship with Susan Hill's work over the past couple of years.  I read The Small Hand back in September 2011 and was decidedly underwhelmed (review here).  Then I was, as most predicted, in awe of The Woman in Black (review here).  When I saw this teeny tiny book tucked away in my local library, I figured that it was about time I read a tie-breaker.

I was going to try and w
rite this review without comparisons to either but I soon realised that just wasn't going to happen.  For me, The Man in the Picture was much definitely better than The Small Hand but definitely not as good as The Woman in Black.  A happy medium and a book that I liked but not one that I'll be forcing on my friends and family.

Ther
e's a lot about this story to like.  The descriptions of the titular picture are wonderfully atmospheric and Hill manages to make the depiction of a Venetian carnival sound genuinely sinister.  In spells, Hill can be one heck of a writer!  


Our main character, Oliver, is one of those superbly sheltered academics with a penchant for rationalising the unusual.  Call me macabre, but I like my ghost stories to be accompanied by the destruction of a young man's boundaries!  This is a less extreme example than other ghost stories that we might mention but Oliver still has that moment where the shadows are creeping in and he tries to shake them off with logic.  Balancing a wisened professor at the end of his career against the younger and more idealistic counterpart isn't new but it worked.

Fo
r all the good points, there was something about the novella that felt a little off.  Almost as though the key scenes had been dreamt up in isolation, jotted down and then linked together with disquiet.  There were some that were poignant and had me utterly gripped but then there were others where the spell broke and I was left with that feeling that in a longer book might have turned to incredulity. The characters didn't have much in the way of motivations or ideas or anything, really, that gave me something to cling onto or root for.  Hill trades heavily in atmosphere at the expense of telling a well-rounded story.  The book was based on a fantastic idea and really does have some great moments so I shan't criticise too much; its length means that there isn't too much time to dwell on the feeling of disconnection before the next captivating moment comes along.

On
e thing that I am now utterly convinced about, though, is Hill's ability to write a fabulous ending.  The ending of The Woman in Black is just...brilliant.  The ending to The Man in the Picture has a similar haunting quality with a question tucked so delicately into its final pages that I finished it and had that moment where you kind of shudder and have the distinct feeling that there might just be some things out there that aren't very nice at all.

Overall:  A solid ghost story with a fabulous ending. It isn't perfect but it's so short that it's almost impossible not to read in one sitting and revel in its darkness.  A really worthy idea that fell a little short in execution but is still worth curling up with for some chills.

~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Date finished:  19 March 2012
Format:  Paperback
Source:  Borrowed from my local library
Genre:  Thriller; Horror
Published: by Profile Books Limited in October 2008

Monday, 7 May 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #8

A Monday recap, courtesy of BookJourney
It's amazing how much difference it makes having one extra day tagged on to the end of your weekend!  This Monday was obviously a lot more relaxing than being at work and it's been horribly gloomy so I've been curled up in a corner most of the day, catching up on some reading.  It's been lovely!  Plenty of home-made mochas, plenty of snacks and plenty of pages got through.  Plus, only a four day week to go back to!  The world is indeed a good place.

So on to the good stuff...




What have I been reading this week?

Last weekend, I was falling asleep into my book for what felt like the hundredth time and realised that I actually didn't care one tiny bit about what was going on.  I'd made it to about the 150 page mark out of 497 and made the decision to call it a day.  It just wasn't for me AT ALL and it was taking me forever to get through. As soon as I put it to one side, I felt excited about all of the books that I could get to now that I'd ditched it and it was brilliant.

So I've read like a demon all week, just grabbing at whatever I fancied and feeling all giddy about it.  I finally got to City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, which I've been I've sort of wanted to read for ages but for some reason never picked up. I'm still not 100% of how I feel about it, though. I enjoyed it, I think, but the ending was just...disconcerting.  I've a sneaky suspicion that it isn't what it seems but I don't think the rest of the series and me will get on that well until that particular plotline goes far, far away.  Very far away indeed.  

Then I ploughed on to The Keep by Jennifer Egan, which I've had out from the library for AGES but kept not getting to.  I loved it.  I can see that it won't be for everyone but I thought it was just fabulous.  I'm looking forward to reviewing it too because it was wonderfully complex and it'll be challenging.  I'll take that back within about 5 minutes of starting to try to review it, I know.  


What am I reading now?  

I'm about 100 pages into Forgotten by Cat Patrick. About a girl that can't remember her past but can remember glimpses of her future.  Lots of time-bending brain-muddling aspects but fun to read all the same.  I'll probably get through most of it this evening while it continues to rain and be gross and I'm looking forward to seeing how things pan out for London Lane (even if her name is odd...).




What am I planning on reading this week?

I had one of those fabulous trips to the library on Monday where you just find loads of books just sitting there that you've been meaning to get for ages.  Forgotten was one of them and the remaining options are:  


 Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

I also got a touch over-excited on Waterstones' website when I noticed that their eBook prices seemed to have become a lot more reasonable all of a sudden.  So actually, I'm more likely than not going to end up reading one of these because I am excited to have them ready to go! Stupidly excited...


 The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan
Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

At the moment, I want to read everything all at once.  My reading mojo is BACK! :)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Some Thoughts on 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins

Despite the frenzy of enthusiasm surrounding this trilogy, it's taken me ages to get around to starting it. I think it was just a bit of scepticism on my part that any series could be quite as good as the blogosphere was trying to make me believe. 

I know that I shouldn't admit this but it was actually seeing the film trailer that made me pick up a copy. I went from just not being overly bothered about reading it to being pretty darn keen to get hold of a copy in the space of a 30 second trailer. The next thing I knew, I was stood in Waterstones in Leeds, staring at their pretty display and trying to resist the urge to buy it. I didn't do a very good job.

Thankfully, the world was right: this is one seriously good book.


Seeing as I'm probably one of the last people in the world to read this, I'm not going to write out a 'proper' review.  Instead, these are my favourite things about The Hunger Games:

1.  Katniss Everdeen

The disadvantage to being so late to the party was that I had already noticed that everybody seemed to be in love with Katniss.  I also sort of knew that she was going to step into her sister's place in the Hunger Games (although that might have also been mentioned on the back of my copy, I can't quite remember...).  As with the book as a whole, I was pretty cynical about Katniss being the strong female character that she was lauded as after being lead down that road before only to find a female character that was strong as long as she had her boyfriend at her side. 

Pleasant surprise #1: Katniss really is a fantastic YA character.  I wasn't convinced early on but definitely came around 

2.  Political undertones that aren't shoved in your face

Dystopian societies with gross social imbalances are not new.  Pure, for example, is a stark example of the idea that I read earlier in the year. What The Hunger Games did well that Pure didn't do was look at the dichotomy without making me feel unwell.  It worth saying again: there is something tremendously disturbing about the privileged residents of the Capitol forcing children to fight each other to the death for their entertainment.  It sounds ludicrous to us but ancient civilisations loved it so I suppose it's horribly accurate in some way.  I'm intrigued to see how that pans out.

3.  The sheer force of the story that made me unable to put it down

There are books that, while not fantastically written, just have something about them that compels readers to keep going.  I suppose you could argue that that is fantastic writing.  Whichever way you look at it, I love feeling so caught up in a story that I will do almost anything to keep reality at bay.  In The Hunger Games' case, Boyfriend was staying over at his friends so I read half, fell asleep, woke up and read the second half.  I was starving but had to finish before I went and made breakfast.  There are few things that I will postpone eating for.  That this book was one of them is praise indeed.  

I know that I haven't mentioned everything but those are the elements that stick in my mind.  If you haven't already read it, I am both happy that I'm NOT the last person to have read it in the world and sad for you.  

And yes, I have already bought Catching Fire and Mockingjay.  Bring on more Panam!