Saturday, 5 May 2012

E-Books VS Paper Books - A Year Later

It's been almost a year since I bought a kindle. I love my kindle. It's functional, convenient, and for travelling - an absolute blessing. It's a cool gadget. But that's it. It still does not give me the same feeling as reading an actual, physical book.

I have read a lot of stuff on Kindle for the past year, and sometimes when I consistently read two or three books, I found myself missing my paper books. Kindle gives me a feeling of dissatisfaction. It's the same story, same author, same words. But it is not the same experience.

Holding a particular book in my hand is a visceral experience. Every book is different, and the work and the effort that went into designing its cover and pages and font, feeds into the actual reading experience. That is why, I still continue to purchase mostly physical books.

So I would never give up my kindle, because of its practical, convenient value. But I don't think I could ever value it over physical books. I don't think it could ever give me the same feeling that an actual book does.

What about you? How are you faring with your e-reader? If you don't have one, would you ever consider buying one?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Non-Fiction Challenge

This blog is about writing, but it is really about my fiction writing. My predominant focus is on Fantasy, though I love science fiction too, and have also wrote a Indian-American women's fiction. Fantasy is at the moment my prime focus, and it's what I intend to focus on.

But one thing I've also always loved is journaling, and I wrote about my journaling experiments and passion on my Journal Addict blog.

Now, I am taking that to the next level and actually focusing on creative non-fiction writing, instead of causal blogging. That is going to be on my brand new platform, Kaizen Journaling, which goes live on Tuesday.

Check out the cool launch page, and I hope to see some of you there :-)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Learning from Critiquing Other People's Work

Do you remember those days in school or college when you had to spend English classes pouring over fantastic work and ripping it apart? Wondering whether the author was depressed just because he happened to mention grey skies or feeling blue? 

That's not the kind of  critiquing I mean. We'll leave that to the teachers and professors. I mean a helpful critique of a fellow author's work. Looking at their book to help them see things they might have missed after the fiftieth edit. If you are a writer, you know what I'm talking about. We've all been there, and found that words blurred into mere black smudges on paper. 

I haven't done a lot of critiquing for other people's book, possibly because I only have one critique partner. More because of lack of time than anything else. But even from my limited experience, I think it's a valuable thing. I guess it's human nature that it's a lot easier to spot mistakes or faults in other people's work than your own. Then there is the matter of outside perspective as well. When it's my story, I know it's inside out, so even a little hint makes the whole scene clear. But when it's someone else's vision, I don't know what it means, and so I need clear words and story line to be able to understand it. 

Critiquing someone else's work helps you think about issues in your own work. Or at least that's how it is for me. If I say to my CP, "too passive", and a day later I find myself writing a passive sentence, I notice it. If I complain that her character is "too whiny", I notice when mine is winging for no good reason. 

What we offer to our critique partners (hopefully) is constructive feedback, and that feedback is constructive for both parties because the more effort and thought you put into reviewing their work, means the more knowledge and skill you build up to edit your own. 

What do you think? Do you feel that your experience with your CPs is mutually beneficial? Does it improve your critiquing skills for your own work?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Therese Walsh

1. Your childhood favourite: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
2. Your current favourite: It's a tie between The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
3. Your top five authors: Believe it or not, I don't have favorite authors, just favorite books. (Though I'd never turn down a book by Juliet Marillier or Barbara O'Neal.)
4. Book(s) you’re reading now: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris
5. Book(s) you’ve pretended to read: Ooh, good question, but I don't dare tell.
6. Book(s) you’ve bought for the cover: Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum has one of the prettiest covers I've ever seen.
7. Book you’re a champion for: Definitely the books I mentioned as favorites--The Time Traveler's Wife and The Night Circus--along with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. I also talk about Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest quite a bit, and with good reason; it's a beautifully written story.
8. Book that changed your life: The only book that changed my life, but that did truly change my life, is my novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy. I worked on the story for six years, and wrote it twice, before it was published.
9. Book you most want to read again for the first time: All of my favorites, and I'll also include the Harry Potter series.
10. Book you turn to for comfort: Any of Barbara O'Neal's novels.
11. Favourite line from a book: I have a deep love for many first lines, but I'll stick with one of my favorite novels. "It’s hard being left behind." - from The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Be the Best You

  • Do you wish you could find the strength to be who you are, regardless of what the world (or your mom, spouse, children) want you to be? 
  • Do you want to have courage to live by your own rules, whether or not it conforms with what you "should" do?
  • Do you want to be the best you can be, and change the world one page a time? 
If you said "yes" to any of the above, I could use your help. I'm working on a new, super-exciting project, and I am trying to gauge what would my readers find most useful. 

If you didn't answer "yes" to any of the above questions but know others who might, then please share. 

If you would like to help me out, please let me know and I will send you a questionnaire by email. It should take no more than 20 minutes. Please send me an email at journaladdict [at] hotmail [dot]

Thank you in advance, from the bottom of my heart!! And even if you don't want to participate, thank you for being my reader :-) I appreciate you being here.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Sara-Jayne Townsend

1. Your childhood favourite
I’ve been doing a series of books from childhood on my blog, and there are many.  Though one of my favourite authors as a child was Enid Blyton.  I loved her Famous Five books.

2. Your current favourite
I have read so many fantastic books, I really can’t pick an all-time favourite book.  Everything by all the authors listed below is in my list of ‘best books ever’.

3. Your top five authors
Stephen King, Sara Paretsky, Jim Butcher, Kathy Reichs, Mike Carey.

4. Book(s) you're reading now
THE ASSASSIN’S PRAYER by Ariana Franklin.  I’ve really been enjoying this series about a female Sicilian doctor who finds herself in unenlightened England during Henry II’s reign, where women doctors are unheard of and women with any kind of healing skill are considered to be witches.  I love books about strong women, and this series is about a strong woman in a time when women really had no rights at all.

Sadly, Ariana Franklin died last year, so there will be no more books in this series, which is a tragic loss to the literary world.

5. Book(s) you've pretended to read
I haven’t.  My reading tastes are very straightforward, and I’ve never pretended otherwise.  There are a lot of classics I haven’t read, nor never will.

6. Book(s) you've bought for the cover
I don’t buy books solely for the cover.  I’ll read the blurb, and maybe the first couple of paragraphs first, before I make a decision.

7. Book you're a champion for
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, by Agatha Christie.  Still the most perfect whodunit ever written.

8. Book that changed your life
BURN MARKS by Sara Paretsky.  The first book of hers that I read, it introduced me to V.I. Warshawski, who remains a shining example of a tough, intelligent, strong-minded woman, and she inspired me to want to write about a similar strong-minded woman, which is the moment my actress amateur sleuth was conceived.

9. Book you most want to read again for the first time
DISSOLUTION by CJ Sansom.  This is the first book in an amazing series featuring the hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake, against the backdrop of Henry VIII’s ever-changing wives.  Shardlake is an intelligent and sensitive protagonist, with the education to make a comfortable life for himself, whilst reconciling himself to the fact that his deformity means he will always be ridiculed and shunned, and that he will likely never find someone to share his life with.  The politics of the era are blended cleverly with some murder mystery Matthew is trying to get to the bottom of.  I will read these books again, because the wonderful writing makes them a joy to read, but it would be fabulous to do so again with the foreknowledge of ‘whodunnit’.

10. Book you turn to for comfort
Douglas Adams’s HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.  It always makes me laugh out loud.

11. Favourite line from a book
No one line springs to mind, but I love Jim Butcher’s books about his Chicago wizard Harry Dresden, because they are full of snappy one-liners.  Harry is forever getting into trouble for them, but they are wonderful to read.


Monday, 13 February 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Karin Eider

1.     Your childhood favorite
My first love was a book of fairy tales in y grandmother's house. It was written in old German font and beautifully illustrated. Unfortunately it got lost or somebody else grabbed it when my grandmother died. I should remember to keep an eye open at flea markets and antique book shops!
As young girl then I was obsessed by the Hanni & Nanni series written by Enid Blyton.
2.      Your current favorite
It's rather difficult to chose one under your children, isn't it? *sigh* But if I really have to it would be The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. I've recently read the whole series again, just because of the German release of the latest book. Of course, I've already read the English version, I can't wait such long!
3.      Your top five authors
In no particular order: J.R. Ward, Alexandre Dumas, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King ... can I really just name five?!?
4.      Book(s) you’re reading now
I've just opened the door to Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series ... where I always ask myself to which book I literally want to find a door to get in there in person.
5.      Book(s) you’ve pretended to read
My first impulse was to say 'None!', but then just the other day I saw an announcement for an upcoming movie ... to my shame and as passionate lover of Lord Of The Rings (both, book and movie), I have to admit, that I've never read The Hobbit - I only know the audio book. That doesn't count as read, right?
6.      Book(s) you’ve bought for the cover
Again I'd love to say 'None!' ... but that's only half of the truth. I fancy books that look good in my book shelves. That for I've bought many of my favorites a second time, when a beautiful box set or special edition was released, e.g. Dan Brown's special illustrated edition of Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code or the box set of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.
7.      Book you’re a champion for
There are so many books I love for different reasons and for exactly those reasons I would recommend or defeat them:
·         The Stand by Stephen King: Published in 1978, the possibility, that fiction becomes reality has never been more current and frightening.
·         The Count Of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas: No other book has ever portrait revenge in such a complex manner.
·         The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer: A series, that satisfies the desire of my teenage-girl-heart.
·         The Perfume by Patrick Sueskind: The world of smells preserved between pages. Wonderful.
·         The Silent Miaow by Paul Gallico, Felidae by Akif Pirincci, Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter: Must-reads for every cat owner.
·         Anne Franks Diary: A simple must read.
·         Die Goldhaendlerin (The Gold Merchant) & Die Wanderhure (The Wandering Whore) by Iny Lorentz: Strong heroines conquer their way in the Middle Ages.
·         Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen: In that particular case, I'm not sure, if I like the book or the movie (the version with Keira Kneightley) more?
·         I'm Off Then: My Journey Along the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling: Funny, entertaining and 'a cognition of the day' at the end of every chapter.
·         The Physician by Noah Gordon & The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett: The Middle Ages have never been described more colorful and alive and thrilling.
·         The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: What else should I say than 'One book to rule them all'!
·         Ramses series by Christian Jacq: Satisfies my desire for ancient Egypt.
·         Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: With every new release I admired her immense imagination and her ability to lay out secret hints more and more.
·         The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward: Vampire warrior have never been sexier.
·         And many others named in this questionnaire or waiting in my book shelves...
8.      Book that changed your life
I wouldn't say changed ... I mean, it's quite a big impact for such a small word. But there's a book that made me think a lot, about life, fate and coincidence, possibilities and lost chances, me and my personality: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
9.      Book you most want to read again for the first time
Unbelievable, but true, there are a few books in my shelves, I have read only once and they just wait for another turn: Ulldart series by Markus Heitz, The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson and The Swarm by Frank Schaetzing.
10.  Book you turn to for comfort
Actually, there's no particular book. When I feel for a special book, I read it!
11.  Favorite line from a book
"All that we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
I'm not sure, if it's from the book or the movie, anyway it's from Lord Of The Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Find more about my thoughts on reading, writing and Art Journaling over at my blog Nofretiris Dream Of Writing.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Wayne Kernochan

1. Your childhood favourite
The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton

2. Your current favourite

Wally Lamb and Aldous Huxley were tied until Wally friended me on Face Book 

3. Your top five authors

Aldous Huxey, Wally Lamb, C.S. Lewis, Sylvia Plath and Maya Angelou

4. Book(s) you’re reading now


5. Book(s) you’ve pretended to read
Once, I said I read the Quran cover to cover, but I skimmed it 

6. Book(s) you’ve bought for the cover

7. Book you’re a champion for

I don't understand the question 
8. Book that changed your life

The Outsiders started me writing. I'll go with that one

9. Book you most want to read again for the first time

I know this much is True

10. Book you turn to for comfort

Elements of Style

11. Favourite line from a book

"Dear Jesse, as the moon lingers a moment over the bitterroots, before its descent into the invisible, my mind is filled with song. I find I am humming softly; not to the music, but something else; some place else; a place remembered; a field of grass where no one seemed to have been; except a deer; and the memory is strengthened by the feeling of you, dancing in my awkward arms."

Norman Maclean. I forget the book's name. It was a series of short stories that inspired the movie A River Runs Through it

Monday, 6 February 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Heidi Sutherlin

1. Your Childhood Favourite 
Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain series. 

2. Your Current Favourite

Nora Roberts' Sign of Seven trilogy.

3. Your Top Five Authors

Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle/Amanda Quick (her pen names), Marion Zimmer Bradley, Christine Feehan, Linda Lael Miller

4. Book(s) you are reading now

Lisa Jackson SHIVER

5. Book(s) you've pretended to read

I've never pretended to read one. Was tempted in college a time or two.  

6. Book(s) you've bought for the cover

Oddly, I've never bought a book for the cover. Hmm. Weird. 

7. Book(s) you're a champion for

SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser. It's not a happy or easy read, but it's an important piece of early American fiction. It was written during a time of self discovery in literature and was one of the precursors to contemporary fiction as we know it today. There are other more interesting novels from that period, but SISTER CARRIE is a powerful example of the impact of portraying life as it is, even when it's painful to watch. No happy endings there. A close second to this would be WHAT MAISEY KNEW by Henry James. He wrote this before Dreiser wrote SISTER CARRIE, but it is another Early American novel in the literary realism genre that was instrumental in grounding literature and paving the way for contemporary fiction. Okay...stepping away from the soap box slowly. 

8. Book that changed your life
A THOUSAND WORDS FOR STRANGER by Julie E. Czerneda. In short the main character has part of her memory blocked. While she learns who she is all over again, she realizes in the end when her memory is restored that she's had the opportunity to grow as a person in ways she would not have without her memory loss. The lesson? That nobody is cemented into the path that they are on, that you can truly be whatever you set your mind to and that relying on "your nature" as an excuse is not necessary. There's a lot of hope in that. 
9. Book you most want to read again for the first time
The entire Darkover Series by Marion Zimmer Bradley (can you sense a pattern here...?)

10. Book you turn to for comfort
Nora Roberts' Three Sisters Island trilogy.

11. Favourite line from a book
"Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too
Went for a ride in a flying shoe." - Shel Silverstein, WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS

Thanks! This has been interesting. I've learned a bit about myself doing this. What a lovely exercise.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Joanne Hall

1. Your childhood favourite
It’s not very fashionable to admit now, but I was really into Enid Blyton.  All her adventure series (though not the Secret Seven, they annoyed me), but the Famous Five, the Five Find Outers, the “Castle of Adventure” series.  Ok, I realise now they were essentially all the same plot and she was churning them out like MacDonalds make hamburgers, but I was about seven and I liked the idea of kids going off and doing Stuff without the intervention of parents.  Also, I lived in the country, so it was easy to take a packet of sandwiches and disappear for the day and have adventures of my own without my parents worrying too much.  This was the early eighties, I guess it was a different world then...

2. Your current favourite
I’m going through an heroic fantasy phase – I say going through, but really I’ve always liked heroic fantasy, and the books that are coming out now seem more gritty and real.  It’s also nice to see female characters playing a bigger role in modern heroic fantasy, I went back over a few David Gemmell books recently and it was alarming to me that I’d never noticed how the women were generally relegated to a washing / cooking/ healing role.   I’m loving “Song of Ice and Fire” (who isn’t!), and Joe Abercrombie, and I recently bought “Wolfsangel” by M D Lachlan which looks great, so I’m looking forward to that.  And for light relief between all the slaughter I’m re-reading Lloyd Anthony’s “Chronicles of Prydain”, which I haven’t read since I was about ten.  They’re remarkably grown-up in their tone, and they’re making me want to go back to that classic British fantasy that came out in the 60’s, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner.  So I might read some more of that next!

3. Your top five authors
My top five of anything is subject to change without notice.  My top five authors this week are Isaac Asimov, David Gemmell, Joseph Conrad, Neil Gaiman and Diana Wynne Jones.  Ask me next week and it’ll be someone different.

4. Book(s) you’re reading now
I’m currently reading “P J Harvey – Siren Rising” by James Blandford.  It didn’t start off too promisingly; it falls into the trap of a lot of unauthorised music biographies of speculation laced with “facts” grabbed off Wikipedia and old quotes from the music press.  It got more interesting when he started talking about the late 80’s Bristol music scene and began to sound like he had done some proper research.  It’s one of those books that could go either way.

5. Book(s) you’ve pretended to read
I have pretended to read books, to sound clever *hangs head and mumbles*  That was when I was in college and I had no confidence.  I’m happy to say that I’ve now read most of the books I’ve pretended to read in the past, and most of them were books I wanted to get around to reading!  Can’t think of many titles, but “Lipstick Traces” by Greil Marcus was one of them, and I still haven’t read that.  It is on my wish list though!

6. Book(s) you’ve bought for the cover
I’ve never bought a book just for the cover.  If the cover’s good I’ll look at the blurb.  It’s a combination of good blurb and good cover, a decent blurb can make up for a bad cover, but it doesn’t work the other way round!  I remember picking up my first Terry Pratchett (“Wyrd Sisters”) because I’d never seen a cover like that – this was when Josh Kirby was still doing them, I think I was about fourteen – but I bought it because the blurb made me laugh.  Then my mum borrowed it because the blurb made her  laugh...

7. Book you’re a champion for
At the moment, I’m championing Stephanie Burgis’s wonderful Kat Stephenson Regency fantasies.  They’re like Jane Austen meets Dianna Wynne Jones, and I can’t wait to see how the series pans out.  I’m buying them for my goddaughter in the hope that she too will grow up and want to cut off all her hair and run away to be a highwayman.  If she does, I’ll know I’ve done something right!

8. Book that changed your life
“Dragonflight” by Anne McCaffrey.  A friend lent it to me when I was twelve (I say lent, I never gave it back).  It made me want to ride dragons, and, more importantly, it made me want to write about dragons, and it opened up a whole previously unexplored genre to me.  I blame “Dragonflight” for, yeah, pretty much everything...

9. Book you most want to read again for the first time
“The Robots of Dawn” by Isacc Asimov.  I think it might be the only book that I finished and felt so sad that it was over that I went straight back to the beginning and read it through again.  That’s a rare feeling, and it’s impossible to recapture on a second / third / fifteenth reading.

10. Book you turn to for comfort
“Winne the Pooh” and “The House at Pooh Corner”.  I still have the same copies I had when I was four, which are hardbacks, though they lost their covers years ago.  It’s like reading a hug.

11. Favourite line from a book
When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere” – Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham.  Such a succinct, smart way of saying “Oh dear, the end of the world just happened, and you missed it.”  Even now, when I’m wandering down the street and it’s a Wednesday that looks a lot like an early Sunday morning, I get a little unnerved...

Monday, 30 January 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Emily Gee

1. Your childhood favourite
Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree books and her boarding school stories, and the Biggles books by Capt W.E. Johns. I still have all my old copies – boxes of them – and reread them from time to time because I love them so much!

2. Your current favourite

Most of my favourites have been favourites for years, like The Magicians of Caprona, by Diana Wynne Jones, and Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer, and A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie.

3. Your top five authors

Georgette Heyer (Regency and Georgian novels)
Lois McMaster Bujold (Vorkosigan series)
Jennifer Crusie
Diana Wynne Jones (Chrestomanci books)
My father, Maurice Gee

4. Book(s) you’re reading now

I’m rereading a number of Georgette Heyer’s regencies. Also have just started A Short History Of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

5. Book(s) you’ve pretended to read

I can’t think of one. I used to read every book I started, even if I didn’t like it; now I stop reading if a book doesn’t grab me.

6. Book(s) you’ve bought for the cover 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. 

7. Book you’re a champion for

Welcome To Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. I keep telling my friends to read it, but not everyone gets the humour and loves it as much as I do.

8. Book that changed your life

The Naughtiest Girl In The School, by Enid Blyton. I was given this at age 7. Until then reading had been a chore, but once I read this book I was hooked and became a voracious reader!

9. Book you most want to read again for the first time

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold and Welcome To Temptation by Jennifer Crusie. Both are fabulous – clever and funny and just plain brilliant.

10. Book you turn to for comfort 

Anything by my favourite authors.

11. Favourite line from a book

I absolutely love the final lines of The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer:

‘Charles!’ uttered Sophy, shocked. ‘You cannot love me!’
Mr Rivenhall pulled the door to behind them, and in a very rough fashion jerked her into his arms, and kissed her. ‘I don’t: I dislike you excessively!’ 

(If you haven’t read The Grand Sophy, read it – it’s fabulous fun!)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Michela D'Orlando

1. Your childhood favourite
Fairy tales! I still complain about the fact that books for grown-ups don’t have illustrations. The ugly duckling is still my favourite classic fairy tale. Later on, to be honest there was never enough action in books for kids. I liked fights and strong heroines, but all that was available to me as a kid in elementary school were the various Pollyannas and Little Women and I didn’t like those stories at all. But at around 12 I fell in love with Homer, Virgil’s Aeneid and the epic poems of the Renaissance. My favourite reads were all about Greek mythology, legends and heroes.

2. Your current favourite
I really like the wave of gritty heroic/epic fantasy out there, so Clash of Kings by George RR Martin, Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie and The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan are among my current favourites. Aside from fantasy, Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.

3. Your top five authors
I tend to have favourite books more than favourite authors and, except for the first two in the list, they change from time to time, but I’ll try:

Stephen King
Chuck Palahniuk
Joe Abercrombie
Richard Morgan

I want to add some ladies there... so many authors I haven’t read yet, or haven’t read enough and I plan to fill the gap as fast as I can!

4. Book(s) you’re reading now
I’m always reading at least four books at a time, usually more.
At the moment:

Catching Fire, Book 2 in the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, on your very welcome recommendation.

Roma Victrix by Russell Whitfield. I have a thing for warrior women, and this novel is about a female gladiator.

Legend by David Gemmell. For when I win the award...

Six Bad Things by Charlie Huston. Pulp-noire, and pulp is fun.

Last but not least, A Feast For Crows by George RR Martin.

5. Book(s) you’ve pretended to read
None since I’ve finished school a long time ago. In school, Pollyanna and Little Women for sure, and Verne’s Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. As any ten year old, I perfectly knew that the centre of the Earth couldn’t look like that. A very bad case of suspension of disbelief not working at all.

6. Book(s) you’ve bought for the cover
I can’t think of any. I get more lured by the story on the back cover and by the tags. I’ll admit, tag your book ‘gritty and bloody violent’ and I’m very likely to at least pick it up and check it out. I do love covers, though. There are so many beautiful ones out there, but I just like them as a form of art in itself. I buy the book only if I’m interested in the story.

7. Book you’re a champion for
If I have to pick one, that’d be the Iliad. If more than one I’ll add The Hobbit and, for more recent fiction, Fight Club.

8. Book that changed your life
Not a novel, but Nietzsche’s works that I read as a teenager. I didn’t embrace any one philosophy, but those readings really got me thinking and all that thinking set in motion some major changes in my life. As fiction goes, I’d say The Crystal Cave from Mary Stewart because it was the first epic fantasy book I read and I found it as exciting and intense as my beloved epic poems. It was about the Arthurian legend, told from Merlin’s point of view. It had swords, fights and magic and it marked the beginning of my love for fantasy books.

9. Book you most want to read again for the first time
The Hobbit

10. Book you turn to for comfort
Any novel that sets off my imagination, since escapism has always been my solace. But when I need comfort because it’s hard to write, I turn to On Writing by Stephen King.

11. Favourite line from a book
I have too many, lines stick in my head a lot!
OK, just two:

In Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, after beating a handsome guy’s face to a pulp, the narrator says: “I was in a mood to destroy something beautiful.”

And in A Clash Of Kings by George RR Martin, Jamie Lannister has one of my favourite lines ever. When told the world is a bad place because of men like him, he says: “There are no men like me. There’s only me.”

Thanks Dolly for having me, your blog rocks!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Mike Shevdon


1. Your childhood favourite
I know this isn't very politically correct, but for me the Enid Blyton Mysteries were a big part of my childhood reading. I had no connection with the characters - they were from another age - but that didn't matter. The freedoms they enjoyed and the adventures they experienced were everything. Nowadays they seem dated and culturally challenged, but at the time I devoured them. An early lesson - you can forgive much for a good story.

2. Your current favourite
Joe Abercrombie: The Blade Itself. 

I chose this book for a specific reason. I fell out of love with Fantasy. It had been a long affair and we had been through a lot together, but the relationship had become stale and repetitive and had nothing new to offer. It culminated with Robert Jordan's: Wheel of Time. Here was a Fantasy epic which had no perceivable end or even a plot. It had characters I cared about which I ceased to care about. It was the end.

Then I was on holiday in Greece and I'd read all the books I'd taken with me. I went to the hotel book exchange and swapped one of my books for one of the ones that had been left. It was The Blade Itself. I had no expectation that I would finish it, but most of the other books were in German. Two days later I had finished it and immediately got my son to read it. My love of Fantasy was alive and well, thanks to Joe.

3. Your top five authors
Neil Gaiman - Anything, but the Sandman series is an all-time favourite

Barbara Hambly - The Time of the Dark, the Rainbow Abyss, and many others

Alan Moore - Watchmen, V for Vendetta, etc.

Robert Crais - Start with The Monkey's Raincoat

Janet Evanovich - Any Stephanie Plum, beginning with One for the Money

4. Book(s) you’re reading now
Idries Shah: Darkest England - A re-read of the classic analysis of English Culture

Windows Server 2008, Administrator's Pocket Guide - Work related

Sizzling Sixteen, Janet Evanovich - Light read

Houses of Parliament, Pitkin Guide - Research

5. Book(s) you’ve pretended to read
Dickens. Seen and heard the play, watched the TV, never read the books.

6. Book(s) you’ve bought for the cover 
Keepers of the Kingdom, The Ancient Offices of Britain - for Mark Cator's cover photograph of the Queen's Remembrancer.

7. Book you’re a champion for
The Master and Margarita: Mikhail Bulgakov. The devil comes to Moscow during the Communist era, but no-one believes in him. What ensues is a multi-layered tapestry threaded through an urban fantasy, a critique of the soviet system, a potentially blasphemous account of the meeting between Pontius Pilate and Christ, vampires, witches and a host of other things. Every time I read it I discover something new.

8. Book that changed your life
Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere,  Adele Westbrook and Oscar Ratti

I began studying Aikido in 1982, and bought a number of books to try and enhance and explain what was being taught. This book, with Oscar Ratti's black ink illustrations of Aikido movements, brought alive for me what the techniques meant, and continued to enlighten me right through to black belt. It's a book worth reading even if you have no knowledge of martial arts. Its philosophy and depth of understanding set it apart from any other.

9. Book you most want to read again for the first time
Ursula le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

When I'd read The Hobbit and all of C S Lewis' Narnia books, I looked around for something to follow them. I bought and read everything I could find that was fantasy.  I went through Anne McCaffrey, Stephen Donaldson, and a host of other authors. I enjoyed them all, but they didn't satisfy, they only fed the hunger. I branched out into SF, finding much to like but still not finding anything to satisfy. 

Then I found A Wizard of Earthsea. Ursula le Guin wrote with such a simple transparent style, lucid and open, but with a wealth of meaning. It's still one of my all time favorite books. I bought Changing Planes recently and found myself wanting to read this book all over again.

10. Book you turn to for comfort 
Barbara Hambly is an American author and medieval historian. She has written many books, all of them good, but my favourite is a trilogy called The Time of the Dark. It's a classic fantasy tale of a couple of young Americans who get accidentally transported to another world where the society is under threat from an invasion of strange creatures from below ground. The creatures are one of the best and most convincing depictions of a non-human creature in genre fiction, and utterly convincing. You should read them for that alone.

The reason I read and re-read this book is because the story is totally immersive. I can almost feel numbing cold on the road with the refugees, almost taste the woodsmoke on the air. I can hear the chittering of the Dark as they slide silently between the trees. Wonderful writing, fabulous characters and a plot that delivers even when you know the twists and turns are coming.

11. Favourite line from a book
There are so many, but this is a particular favourite:

“She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.” ― Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Books Read 2012

As per this post, this year I am hoping to read 100 books. I started doing this challenge on the blog since July 2009, and I love it. Now that I see how enlightening it is to keep track of books I read, I can't believe I didn't do it before. So, this is where I will list the books I read this year. Feel free to share comments about any of the books here, or what you are reading. 

01. So Many Books, So Little Time - Sara Nelson - 14/01
02. Art of Forgetting (critique copy) - Joanne Hall - 21/01
03. Dead Reckoning - Charlaine Harris - 26/01
04. 1984 - George Orwell - 02/02
05. 279 Days to Overnight Success - Chris Guillebeau - 09/02
06. The World Domination Manifesto - Chris Guillebeau - 11/02
07. 18 Months, 2 Blogs, Six Figures - Corbett Barr - 12/02
08. Live Off Your Passion (lite) - Scott Dinsmore - 16/02
09. Four Hour Work Week - Tim Ferris - 18/02
10. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable - Seth Godin - 24/02

Monday, 16 January 2012

Bookshelf Snooping - Kaitlyn K. Hall

1. Your childhood favouriteThe Little House on the Prairie series

2. Your current favouriteThe Wheel of Time series

3. Your top five authorsRobert Jordan, Terry Pratchett, Laurell K. Hamilton, Laurie Halse Anderson, Edgar Allen Poe

4. Book(s) you’re reading nowBetsy the Vampire Queen, A Grim Pact, From Where I Sit: Making my way with cerebral palsy

5. Book(s) you’ve pretended to readPretty much every required HS reading assignment I pretended to read, BS'd my way thru the work, then read later on on my own time and at my own pace. I pretty much did it to spite my teachers. I have issues with authority...

6. Book(s) you’ve bought for the coverI can honestly say that I don't think I've ever done that. I've bought new copies of books I've read or owned because they redid the cover art or and/or binding style, but I've never bought a book I've never read simply because I liked the cover.

7. Book you’re a champion forI get defensive about any books that go under fire. But the one I've gotten most riled up about has been The DaVinci Code. I love the book. It has amazing detail and thoughts, but IT IS A WORK OF FICTION. FICTION, people!!!

8. Book that changed your life3 of them. An Unquiet Mind, Speak, and The Book of Mormon.

9. Book you most want to read again for the first timeSpeak and An Unquiet Mind. Most definitely.

10. Book you turn to for comfortProbably my scriptures. Or Speak. Sometimes both.