Thursday, September 27, 2007


This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

And, if you’re feeling generous enough–head on over to Amazon and actually send one on its way!

The last book that I very nearly bought for someone was a book called Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham who is an Aussie author who I have never read before. I did think that I should probably read it first to decide whether or not it is good before I send it overseas! As far buying a book this week for someone else...well, the week is still young, but anything is possible!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Reading goals

Today I finished a book. Nothing unusual in that really! This book was however book number 150 for the year which means that I am pretty much right on track for my goal of 200 books.

How am I going with my other goals?

Reading Dorothy Dunnett - well..there's still 3 months left in the year. I might get there, but I actually don't think I will!

Reading at least 15 books I owned as at January 2007 - still only 3. I have been reading lots of 2007 books recently, which is completely unconnected really but never mind!

Reading shortlists for the Booker and either the Orange or Pulitzer. - hmmm...less said on that one the better!

Blogging - well you know I am always behind in reviews so nothing new there.

Reading more Aussie authors (at least 10) - actually this is the one that I am doing better on. So far this year I have read 12 books by Aussie authors! Goal reached!

Actually, I have just posted a review by one of those Aussie authors over at Historical Tapestry - The Boar Stone by Jules Watson. Pop over and have a look!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob -- knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Please note that there may be spoilers for those who have not read the first two books in this series......Sorry!

With all the talk a couple of months ago about Stephenie Meyer knocking Harry Potter off of the number 1 on the bestseller list, I have been somewhat surprised to see so many average reviews of this book around the place. Having now finished this book, I can however see where this is coming from.

Bella is just about to graduate from high school, and that also means that the time where she will be turned from human to vampire is rapidly approaching too. Edward is still not really happy at the prospect of turning Bella so soon, and has imposed his own conditions on this happening, which Bella is not sure that she can meet. She also has to try and reconcile her relationships with Jacob and Edward, as it turns out that they are actually mortal enemies, whose species are fore sworn to fight to the death!

So while Bella is constantly being reminded of the reasons why it is either good to be human, or why it would be difficult to be a newborn vampire, there is a big problem in nearby Seattle with a series of murders. The police are convinced that they are looking for a serial murderer, but the Cullens are convinced that the problem is not a human one, rather a vampire one.

Things change when it is determined that the vampire problem in Seattle is linked to Forks, and that in the end, will end up targeting Bella, and suddenly the vampires and the werewolves must learn to work together to save themselves, and to protect Bella.

There is much that is familiar about this third book - we have a main female who is apparently irresistible to all paranormal creatures (maybe Bella is actually related to Sookie Stackhouse who seems to be just as irresistible to vampires, werewolves etc) and we have a love triangle that include sworn enemies and a beautiful girl.

As to how reviewers are reacting to Bella, I do see where they are coming from. Bella seems determined to put herself in situations where either Jacob or Edward need to either save her, or where Edward in particular has to be the person who shows the maturity and self control to take control of the situation and bring it back under control. Yes, Edward is much older than Bella, but she did seem determined to push him to the limits of his control all the time. She also was quite insecure in many ways, but I am not sure that that is not understandable given the previous events, and that she is marked for more ways than one! Yet despite that, Bella also seems to take any opportunity she can to deceive Edward, or dupe the people who care about her most. Then again, it is very much normal for me to be more hero focussed than heroine focused, and in this case I like both Edward and Jacob. I think that Bella will have to end up with Edward, but I would like to see Jacob happy as well!

Having said that, there was still much to enjoy in this book. The writing was still good (it kept me up until 2am reading last night) and there were plenty of fun moments, including when Edward could read Jacob's thoughts. The night that the three of them spent in the tent was really well written and quite poignant, as two very strong and very different males wrestled with their feelings for Bella.

It was interesting to me when the news stories were happening a while back, how there was such emphasis on the fact that there was no sex in these books, but sex was very much present in this book, maybe not as in the fact that any of our three main characters were having it, but there was certainly a lot of thinking about it and talking about it.

One other thing to mention. Someone on a board that I am on mentioned that she felt that Meyer really laboured the point about Edward being really cold to the touch. To be honest, I don't recall noticing it before, but once it was pointed out to me, it was very much obvious that it was constantly mentioned, but at least in one scene it did mean that Jacob (who is a highly heated creature) gets to do something for Bella that Edward can't, bringing an interesting dynamic to the story.

In conclusion, I did quite enjoy this book. Maybe not as much as Twilight, but it was certainly on a par with New Moon in my opinion. I will still be reading the next book in the series! I will be looking forward to seeing the next cover as Meyer has been quite lucky in the cover stakes in my opinion!

Rating 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

The Bookworm - Naida

Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops
Melody's Reading Corner
Books Love Me

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

New secrets, old flames, and hidden agendas are about to send bounty hunter Stephanie Plum on her most outrageous adventure yet!

Mistake #1: Dickie Orr
Stephanie was married to him for about fifteen minutes before she caught him cheating on her arch nemesis, Joyce Barnhardt. Another fifteen minutes after that, Stephanie filed for divorce, hoping never to see either of them again.

Mistake #2: Doing favors for super bounty hunter Carlos Manoso (aka Ranger) Ranger needs Stephanie to meet with Dickie and find out if he's doing something shady. Turns out,, he is. Turns out, Dickie's also back to doing Joyce Barnhardt. And it turns out Ranger's favors always come with a price...

Mistake #3: Going completely nutso while doing the favor for Ranger and trying to apply bodily injury to Dickie in front of the entire office. Now Dickie has disappeared and Stephanie is the natural suspect in his disappearance. Is Dickie dead? Can he be found? And can Stephanie Plum stay one step ahead in this new, dangerous game? Joe Morelli, the hottest cop in Trenton, New Jersey, is also keeping Stephanie on her toes - and he may know more than he's saying about many things in Stephanie's life.

It's a cat-and-mouse game for Stephanie Plum wherein the ultimate prize might be her life.
With Janet Evanovich's flair for hilarious situations, breathtaking action, and unforgettable characters, Lean Mean Thirteen shows why no one can beat Evanovich for blockbuster entertainment.

I will start out by saying that I was a little underwhelmed with this entry in the Stephanie Plum series of mysteries. I had thought that Janet Evanovich was back at least nearer to top form in Twelve Sharp, but this one wasn't as laugh out loud funny as some of the other books in the series were. I'm not saying that it was terrible, but I didn't think it was fantastic either.

Stephanie is still crap at capturing her FTA's, she is shuffling back and forward between Ranger and Morelli, still getting herself into terrible scrapes and things get blown up. This time, Ranger asks Stephanie to plant a bug in her ex-husbands office and so she goes there and causes a scene. Unfortunately for Stephanie, Dickie then goes missing and Stephanie is the most obvious suspect. Then his business partners start disappearing as well, and it becomes obvious that there is something big going down!

For me, as a fan of the series, I have come to expect little character development. I would however really like to hear something about Steph's mum doing something in a future book other than just cooking, ironing or drinking.

I am finding the secondary relationship between Lula and Tank quite's hoping for a HEA for those two!

As to the always interesting question of Ranger vs Morelli - I am still firmly in the cupcake corner, although Ranger is very tempting!

As always, I am looking forward to the next book in the series, although hopefully it will be better than this one.

Rating 3.5/5

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith

For kind, curious, philosophically minded Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, getting through life with a clear conscience requires careful thought. And with the arrival of baby Charlie, not to mention a passionate relationship with his father Jamie, fourteen years her junior, Isabel enters deeper and rougher waters.

Late motherhood is not the only challenge facing Isabel. Even as she negotiates a truce with her furious niece Cat, and struggles for authority over her son with her formidable housekeeper Grace, Isabel finds herself drawn into the story of a painter's mysterious death off the island of Jura. Perhaps most seriously of all, Isabel's professional existence and that of her beloved Review come under attack from the machiavellian and suspiciously handsome Professor Dove.

A master storyteller whether debating ethics in Edinburgh or pursuing lady detectives in Africa, here Alexander McCall Smith is as witty and wise as his irresistibly spirited heroine.

Please note that there will be spoiler for the earlier books in this series in this review! Can't be helped...sorry!

There have been significant changes for Isabel Dalhousie since the last book in this series. Yes, she is still the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, but she is now also involved in a relationship and has had a child, at a somewhat late stage in her life.

Much of this book is preoccupied with what happens now that Charlie is in her life and the impact that it has had, from taking the car instead of walking, to the fact that her faithful housekeeper is giving her son gripe water without Isabel's knowledge, to why isn't her niece Cat enamoured with Charlie and how can the relationship between Cat and Isabel be repaired given everything that has happened.

There was also a bit about money in this book. It has also been clear that Isabel is quite wealthy, but in this book it is more of an issue than it has ever been, influencing some of the decisions that are made, and also in terms of how different people see Isabel (and others like her) who think nothing of dropping 20000 pounds on a painting for example. There were just a couple of times that I found myself thinking that Isabel was lucky to still be able to go to art auctions, theatre events etc etc which I could never have been free to do as the mother of a young child, but interestingly enough, the author also had Isabel thinking about some of these same issues as well

The sections about the mystery of the painting that Isabel nearly purchases is interesting. Whilst I think these books were originally marketed as mysteries, they are not true mysteries in that the mysteries are very often less obvious than who killed who, and this is a similarity between this series and the more famous and popular No 1 Detective Agency books by this same author.

I think I mentioned this when I read the last book in this series, but oh my goodness, these covers are really terrible! Of course, that is a purely personal opinion, but still!

Another charming and enjoyable read from this author.

Rating 4/5

The other books in this series in order are:

The Sunday Philosophy Club
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
The Right Attitude to Rain

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sunshine and Roses

This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

The reverse of last week’s question:

Imagine that everything is going just swimmingly. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. You’re practically bouncing from health and have money in your pocket. The kids are playing and laughing, the puppy is chewing in the cutest possible manner on an officially-sanctioned chew toy, and in between moments of laughter for pure joy, you pick up a book to read . . .

What is it?

The easy answer would be to say the same as last week's answer - a romance - but that's not exactly true. The reality is that I my reading order is very much defined by what's expected back at the library next, and if any books are due for review! So the answer to the question really is....anything off of my TBR pile!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Baby news

My first nephew, Joshua Jamie was born at 12.20pm on Thursday September 20.

Welcome to the world baby boy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Hippopotamus Pool by Elizabeth Peters

What could be more intriguing to Amelia Peabody and her irresistible, irascible husband, Emerson ("the Father of Curses"), than meeting a masked stranger who offers to show them an Egyptian queen's lost tomb? The mysterious disappearance of that midnight visitor before he can disclose the secret!

Thus begins Amelia's newest adventure along the Nile. Helped, or hampered, by two teenagers, their son, Ramses, and their beautiful ward, Nefret, the Emersons set sail for Thebes to find the hidden tomb of Queen Tetisheri. With them is a timid (or is she?) governess named Miss Marmaduke. Soon to join the expedition are Amelia's sister- and brother-in-law, Evelyn and Walter, whose marriage is going through a rocky patch.

As usual, archaeology is only one of Amelia's concerns, as the Emersons encounter murderers, kidnappers, grave robbers and ancient Egyptian curses. The tomb, of course, will hold a stunning surprise. And the Hippopotamus Pool? It's an ancient Egyptian story of war and wits that Amelia is translating... and that alerts her to a hippo of a different stripe: a nefarious, overweight art dealer who may become her next archenemy. Or perhaps not - for another nemesis is lurking under the Saharan sun, a master of disguises, a caliph of crime, a veritable vizier of villainy. Will Amelia meet her match?

This is just going to be a really quick mini review, because I am really behind and therefore finished this ages ago. I also have a couple of reviews that I have to write for deadlines and so need to get on with those ones!

It's been too long since I read the last Amelia Peabody mystery - luckily all the elements were there that make up Amelia's world - her passion for her husband Emerson, and for archeology, her irascible son Ramses, along with their adopted daughter Nefret, the cats, dastardly evil etc.

It was interesting to see the changes that were made with some of the secondary characters in this book, particularly with Emerson's brother Walter and his wife Evelyn. I wonder if the changes that were made will allow them to be something more than the family who are left behind in future books.

Ramses is still precocious but in a much more intelligent and less annoying way. He does seem to be mooning around after Nefret. It will be interesting to see where that leads in future.

Another really fun trip through Egypt, with the inevitable mystery to be investigated! I am really looking forward to reading the next one!

Rating: 4/5

Judgment in Death by J D Robb

In an uptown strip joint, a cop is found bludgeoned to death. The weapon's a baseball bat. The motive's a mystery. It's a case of serious overkill that pushes Eve Dallas straight into overdrive. Her investigation uncovers a private club that's more than a hot spot. Purgatory's a last chance for atonement where everyone is judged. Where your ultimate fate depends on your most intimate sins. And where one cop's hidden secrets are about to plunge innocent souls into vice-ridden damnation...

When Eve is called into investigate a murder in a uptown strip joint, she isn't expecting to find a cop working a second job. When it becomes clear that the man was killed because he was a cop, things escalate. It's not helped by the fact that things also seem to be connecting back to an old business association between Roarke and a shady character who seems to be very good at evading justice, no matter how water tight the case.

As is normal with these books, Eve takes the investigation very personally, and we get a little more insight into her traumatic childhood. One thing that interests me is that whilst Eve (and more precisely Roarke) have access to all the information they need to be able to find out who Eve really is, they choose not to. If I knew someone who could find that kind of information, and do so without alerting the authorities that I was looking, I am pretty sure that I would want to know. Having said that, I guess it also does make sense that Eve doesn't want to, given how terrible her childhood really is. It really isn't a surprise that she has blocked so much of her past.

This book had a lot more of the hardened Roarke - the man who used to skirt on the edges of the law, who had more than one dodgy business, the man who could revert to violence at any time...and it was great!

The dynamics between Roarke and Eve as they continue to get used to being married, with everything that means, were really good in this book. There were variations between possessiveness and jealousy, as well as the tender moments and underlying care for each other.

There was a little less of the secondary characters in this book, although they were all there. Peabody and McNab are still hot for each other, Mavis literally adds colour to which ever scenes she appears in, and Summerset still gets up Eve's nose.

Another really entertaining read in this great series! I have requested the next one from the library. Now I just have to wait for it to come in!

Rating 4.5/5

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Me...jealous? Nooooo!

I was happily reading my book on the train tonight when I looked up, and what did I see? There was a woman standing less than 2 metres away from me reading Lover Unbound by JR Ward! Talk about a distraction. I started to go back to my book, and just looked at the page and thought "I don't wanna read this! Where's my Lover Unbound! Where is it????" I did manage to eventually start reading my book, but as I got off the train the lady was right next to me, so I just had to ask her if it was good or not, even though she wasn't far into it herself!

So....where's mine? Huh? Huh?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Witness in Death by J D Robb

Opening night at New York's New Globe Theater turns from stage scene to crime scene when the leading man is stabbed to death center stage. Now Eve Dallas has a high-profile, celebrity homicide on her hands. Not only is she lead detective, she's also a witness - and when the press discovers that her husband owns the theater, there's more media spotlight than either can handle. The only way out is to move fast. Question everyone and everything...and in the meantime, try to tell the difference between the truth - and really good acting...

It almost seems as though every time I write a review of a JD Robb book, at some point or another I will say something along the lines of 'it's amazing how consistently well written this series is' and to be honest, I am not going to be saying anything different this time either!

Eve and Roarke are attending the opening night of a play at his newly renovated theatre. The play is Witness for the Prosecution, and the night is going well until suddenly it becomes apparent that something has gone horribly wrong. A man was supposed to act as though he had been stabbed, but instead....he has really been stabbed. Now the question is who had the motive to want him dead? Who had the opportunity? How the heck are they going to interview 3000 plus witnesses, and are the main players as innocent as they seem, or just really good actors?

Eve and Roarke again work well together, although as ever, the ghosts of the past are haunting Eve, particularly as the truth comes to light about the victim. Roarke's strength once again shines through, and the partnership that they are building is coming together beautifully.

The twists and turns of the plot were interesting, and whilst in some ways I had figured out where it was going, the final twist was clever enough to be somewhat of a surprise, even if the motiviation wasn't!

J D Robb has got the mix of action between the primary characters (Eve and Roarke) and the secondary characters like Peabody and McNab really well balanced, although there wasn't much of Mavis in this one!

As usual, I can't wait to get to the next one!

Rating 4/5

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The House of Gaian by Anne Bishop

Fragile Bonds are Brutally Tested....

It began as a witch-hunt. But the Master Inquisitor's plans to eliminate all traces of female power in the world have expended to crushing the Sylvalan barons who oppose him - and to destroying the wellspring of magic in the Mother's Hills.

Faced with this evil, humans, witches, and the Fae become uneasy allies. But even together they aren't strong enough to stand against the armies the Inquisitors are gathering. So they look for help from their last possible ally: the House of Gaian. The reclusive witches who rule the Mother's Hills. The witches powerful enough to create a world - or to destroy one....

And the witches' long-held creed of 'Do No Harm' is about to give way to a more important one: Survive.

I will apologise in advance that this is going to be a quickie review, simply because I finished it so long ago, that I can remember general things but not necessarily specifics!

In the conclusion to the Tir Alainn trilogy, the world as it is knows is coming to an end unless the Bard can join forces with the new Huntress, who also happens to be one of the House of Gaian. They must stop the Master Inquisitor from destroying the world, but at the same time many of the characters must find the inner strength within them, and the strength of love to bind them together and hold them through tough times. For brother and sister Liam and Breanna this may mean finding love in unexpected places, and the brother/sister dynamics here were well written as Liam seeks to protect Breanna, which she does everything she can to escape his protection. The glimpses of amusement in the pages were a welcome respite from the looming battle between good and evil, between death and survival.

I do think that Bishop struggled to find who the central characters were in this series - were the main characters Aiden and Lyrra, or Breanna and Liam, Neall and Ari or others. I suspect that it was supposed to be more of an ensemble cast, but at times the narrative was a bit clunky, and the changes of perspective a bit too uneven to work fully as an ensemble piece.

If there are fans of the Black Jewels books who begin to read this story, there is a chance that they will not enjoy the same fantastic experience as the Black Jewels trilogy but I did close the book with a sigh of enjoyment, and having enjoyed the ride through this trilogy.

This trilogy, which started with Pillars of the World and continued in Shadows and Light is definitely worth reading!

Rating 4/5

Library crazy

It's been ages since I have put up a list of all the books I have out from the library at the moment, so when I saw Danielle's list over at A Work in Progress I thought that I might post my list! For a little while there I had it down to only 35 books out, but now I am back up over the 40 mark! Whoops!

So we will start with the books that I have currently got out:

The Boar Stone by Jules Watson - I've finished this...just need to take it back!

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai - last years Booker Prize winner

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon

Never Seduce a Scoundrel by Sabrina Jeffries

The Last Great Dance on Earth by Sandra Gulland - third book in the Josephine B trilogy

Angel in my Bed by Melody Thomas

The Observations by Jane Harris - I have borrowed this a couple of times now. I am determined to read it this time!

Silhouette in Scarlet by Elizabeth Peters

Further Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes

Winnie and Wolf by A N Wilson - on this year's Booker long list

Dreaming the Hound by Manda Scott - third book in the Boudica trilogy

The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood - fifth book in the Phryne Fisher series

Seeing a Large Cat by Elizabeth Peters - ninth book in the Amelia Peabody series

The Christmas Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini - eighth book in the Elm Creek Quilts series

Peony in Love by Lisa See

Mermaid of Penperro by Lisa Cach

Barbed Wire and Roses by Peter Yeldham

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong - fourth book in the Women of the Otherworld series

Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan - on this year's Booker long list

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho - on this year's Booker long list

The Night Drifter by Susan Carroll - second book in the St. Ledger trilogy

Shadowbrook by Beverley Swerling

Judgement in Death by J D Robb

Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix

The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith

Weight by Jeanette Winterson

Firestorm by Rachel Caine

Only in my Arms by Jo Goodman

Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas

Lady in Blue by Javier Sierra

London's Perfect Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch

A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin

The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown anthology

Back on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Society Whirl includes stories by Michelle Styles and someone else

Sebastian by Anne Bishop

And these are the ones I have on request at the moment:

Blood Fever by Karen Marie Moning

The book of air and shadows by Michael Gruber

Carpentaria by Alexis Wright - winner of this year's Miles Franklin award

Engagement between enemies by Kathie DeNosky

Grave surprise by Charlaine Harris - this has been On Order for months. I wonder if they are ever going to get it!

High noon by Nora Roberts

A long way gone memoirs of a boy soldier by Ishmael Beah

Portrait of an unknown woman by Vanora Bennett - this has been On Order for ages too!

Shadows in bronze by Lindsey Davis

Solomon key by Dan Brown

Super dragon ball Z. (PS2) (not for me!)

Unpolished gem by Alice Pung

Friday, September 14, 2007

Comfort Food

A little late, but her is this week's Booking Through Thursday question:

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

(Any bets on how quickly somebody says the Bible or some other religious text? A good choice, to be sure, but to be honest, I was thinking more along the lines of fiction…. Unless I laid it on a little strong in the string of catastrophes? Maybe I should have just stuck to catching a cold on a rainy day….)

I would without doubt be grabbing a historical romance novel, but I can't really be any more specific from that because I don't actually reread books very often, and so it isn't any one book that I grab but rather a book from a particular genre. Occasionally I might go for a nice cozy mystery as well, but it really just depends! Of course, I would also be comforting myself with some chocolate as well!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Why We Read What We Read by John Heath and Lisa Adams

What do weight loss, evil emperors and tales of redemption have in common?

We readers have many dirty little secrets—and our bestselling books are spilling them all. We can’t resist conspiratorial crooks or the number 7. We have bought millions of books about cheese. And over a million of us read more than 50 nearly identical books every single year.

In Why We Read What We Read, Lisa Adams and John Heath take an insightful and often hilarious tour through nearly 200 bestselling books, ferreting out their persistent themes and determining what those say about what we believe and how we relate to one another.

This is a very different read for me! I don't normally read much non fiction, much less do I remember reading any books that are really about reading. The idea behind this book was to have a look at the bestsellers over a period of time and try to figure out what the reading patterns (or probably more precisely, the book buying habits) of the American public can tell us. Make no mistake, this is very much a book that is targeted to the American reading public - there is little consideration about other reading populaces around the world. That's a completely understandable focus to have - it's just that I don't actually fit into that target demographic!

In trying to undertake this analysis, the authors have broken the book into several distinct genres - books focused on diet/wealth creation etc, adventure novels and political books (with particular focus on the numerous books that came out just prior to the 2004 US elections), self help in terms of relationships and romance novels, literary fiction and religious literature.

Whilst it must be quite difficult to undertake a study of hundreds of books that have been published over a period of 15 years or so, glean some lessons and put it into a form that both makes sense and also is readable,the authors do quite admirably in this area. There are plenty of light hearted, tongue in cheek comments, either aimed at specific types of books, or the authors/reading public etc. In fact, some of them were laugh out loud funny, and that certainly made a potentially dry read much more interesting in parts. Whilst there are some interesting points raised throughout the book, but maybe it is would have been better to break this kind of book into sections and just read a section at a time. Where I really did struggle is with some of the conclusions drawn, because it would appear that from my reading habits, I am doomed...doomed I tell you!

For me, there were some chapters that were harder work than others, most particularly because there were a whole heap of books that either never made it big in Australia, or where I just don't read those genres (for example, political books). The chapters that I had the most reaction to were the chapters about literary fiction and romance because they are what I do read, so I will focus more on those sections in the following paragraphs.

Romance is lumped together in a chapter called Hopefully Ever After with the profusion of relationship books out that were popular during the 90s like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and Relationship Rescue by Dr Phil. The authors look at many of the big names in romance - Roberts, Howard, Evanovich (they are big fans of Janet!), Woodiwiss and Quinn all get a mention, as well as Sparks and some romantic fiction like The Time Traveller's Wife and Girl with A Pearl Earring - and for a while there I actually began to think that maybe, just maybe, the conclusions wouldn't point to all the normal cliches that are drawn about romance readers, but alas it wasn't to be! Apart from the fact that basically it ended up being suggested that reading romances was a coping mechanism, "over a million of those [romance readers] consume an astounding 51-100+ books a year! These numbers suggest that a great many people are intensely reliant on the emotional effects of reading these books." And the final conclusions on this subject...."It's sadder still to learn that we love to read about love because we have so little of it". Last year I read over 100 romances, but having said that, I also read more than 100 books from other genres as well!

And what about other genres - specifically literary fiction. Well, things don't look that great here either. As readers we love to read about the triumph of the human spirit, about ways of being able to assuage our guilt, about redemption. The fact that nearly every single book on the list either has a happy ending, or at least the hope of a happy ending just helps the conclusion that we are sticking our head in the sand about real life as we read, because in real life, there isn't always a happy ever after. Oprah gets a fair amount of page space in this section, and she probably comes out of it with a little more credit than a lot of people seem to give her, although she is somewhat criticised for encouraging the internalisation by her readers of the books that she has chosen for her book club.

Of course, there could be no look at the bestseller lists of the early 2000's without mentioning one book, and that book gets significant page space - especially looking at how it is that Dan Brown basically wrote the same book twice and yet one was initially a dud, and the other a smash hit.

Man it sucks being a miserable reader! I'm not sure if I need to go and pick up a romance novel and try to cope, or whether I should pick up the literary fiction I am reading and contemplate if I have anything to feel guilty about!

Thanks to Source Books for sending this book to me for review.

Rating 3/5

Friday, September 07, 2007

Booker Prize 2007 Shortlist

So, the shortlist has been announced! Despite my best intentions I haven't actually read any of the longlist nominations yet, but I do have The Welsh Girl and On Chesil Beach out from the library at the moment!

# Darkmans by Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate)
# The Gathering by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape)
# The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton)
# Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (John Murray)
# On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape)
# Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (Simon & Schuster

Thursday, September 06, 2007


This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

Okay, so the other day, a friend was commenting on my monthly reading list and asked when I found the time to read. In the ensuing discussion, she described herself as a “goldilocks” when it comes to reading–she needs to have everything juuuuuust right to be able to focus. This caught my attention because, first, I thought that was a charming way of describing the condition, but, two, while we’ve talked about our reading habits, this is an interesting wrinkle. I’d never really thought about it that way.

So, this is my question to you–are you a Goldilocks kind of reader?

Do you need the light just right, the background noise just so loud but not too loud, the chair just right, the distractions at a minimum?

Or can you open a book at any time and dip right in, whether it’s for twenty seconds, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or indefinitely, like while waiting interminably at the hospital–as long as the book is open in front of your nose, you’re happy to read?

So, what's the opposite of goldilocks?

I read anywhere and everywhere! Mainly on the train, and in bed at night, but also in the car at traffic lights if the traffic is bad, whilst waiting for kids sport to finish, in the doctors surgery.....just about anywhere!

So where, or more precisely, when is the only time I don't read? The answer is at lunchtime when I am at work, because I know that if I get sucked into a really good book then I know that I either will completely lose track of the time and get back from lunch really late, or I will sit there thinking about the book when I am supposed to be doing other things!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Spring has sprung!

Well, actually, it's been sprung for a few days now, but today is officially the first day of spring, and it was a beautiful day today! The backyard looks much better now that the lawn has been mowed, the roses have been pruned! The only problem with that was that it was me doing the mowing and now I am exhausted!

In other news, the Australian Rules football season is coming to a close, with this week the last week of the normal season! Next week the finals start, and thankfully, my boys just scraped in to the finals. I'm hoping that their game might be in Melbourne so that we can go to a finals game, but we will see! With our captain retiring at the end of the season, it is one last chance for glory before there is a changing of the guard! Go Crows!

I've posted a review over on Historical Tapestry on The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani. This was a really good read about a young girl growing up in 17th century Persia. Not your normal setting for a Historical Fiction book. Be sure to check out the review by clicking here!