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text 2017-03-02 02:32
February Reading
The Genius of Birds - Jennifer Ackerman
The Persian Pickle Club - Sandra Dallas
A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup
The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde
The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms - Amy Stewart
The White Cottage Mystery - Margery Allingham
From the Ground Up: The Story of A First Garden - Amy Stewart
Wild Strawberries - Angela Thirkell
Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers - Garrison Keillor,Bob Eckstein
Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse , and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide - Josh Katz

Another great month by the numbers, but in context, there were a lot of short books again this month.  I'm trying to get my TBR pile down quickly by going for the low-hanging fruit.

 

So 27 books read in February, and I've been good about updating my book editions with the correct page numbers, so I know I've read 5,024 pages this month.  Usually that's not a stat I care much about, but knowing it's accurate makes it more interesting (to me).

 

My stats are skewed this month for a variety of reasons: more 4.5 and 5 star ratings because of a few pop-up books that are sheer artistry:

Leonardo da Vinci's Remarkable Machines

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Megabeasts 

 

A gift book of quotes from a friend who personalised it with notes and cards, making it a personal treasure:

No Two Persons Ever Read the Same Book: Quotes on Books, Reading and Writing

 

And then the great reads this month from a more objective (yet still subjective) point of view:

 

Fiction:

The Persian Pickle Club

The Big Over Easy 

The White Cottage Mystery

Wild Strawberries

 

Non-Fiction: 

From the Ground Up: The Story of A First Garden

Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse , and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide

Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores

A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie

The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms

The Genius of Birds

 

Another month heavy with non-fiction, and looking at my TBR pile(s) it's a trend that's going to continue; there's a lot more fact waiting on me than there is fiction.

 

The book I liked the least was Double Love, which sort of isn't fair: it's the poster-book for all that is silly teenage angst from a female POV.  It's a silly book, but it is written for a traditionally silly market.  And I loved it when I was a kid.

 

My least favourite this month that was written for my demographic is Better Late Than Never which is what a reader gets when good writers go bad.  At least I got my happy ending.

 

Generally a very happy reading month; hope everyone else had one too!

 

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text 2017-01-30 07:41
January Reading
Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume - Julie Kenner,Jennifer Coburn,Megan McCafferty,Lynda Curnyn,Jennifer O'Connell,Melissa Senate,Diana Peterfreund,Stephanie Lessing,Laura Ruby,Erica Orloff,Stacey Ballis,Kristin Harmel,Shanna Wendson,Elise Juska,Kyra Davis,Beth Kendrick,Berta Platas,Kayla Pe
The Bookshop on the Corner - Jenny Colgan

January is always the best reading month for me for the simple reason that it's summer holidays here Down Under and I'm off work for 4 weeks.  MT's at work for 3 of those weeks, which means 21 blissful days of reading for hours, uninterrupted.  

 

I knocked 33 34 books off my pile this month and because it's the first month of the year, it was easy to see on the challenge page that I'd read 7685 8029 pages.  I got a bug in my ear about that page number thing and went through all the books I read, updating them so I could see an accurate pages read number.  I probably won't do that again, but I am inspired to try and check for accurate page numbers as I finish each book.

 

I had been quietly aiming for a book a day, so I'm super pleased to have slightly exceeded that.  Most of the books weren't at all long, but I was going for maximum number of physical books knocked off the top of Mt. TBR, so I was purposefully going for the low-hanging fruit.

 

I had a lot of very good reads this month but far and away the two that made me the happiest were Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume  and The Bookshop on the Corner.  

 

I had 4 other 5-star reads:

A Certain Age 

Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places 

Leonardo da Vinci 

What A Plant Knows: a field guide to the senses 

 

and 5 4.5-star reads (3 of which were vintage children/YA books):

Around the World in 80 Cliches: Overused Expressions from Across the Globe

Freckle Juice

Then Again, Maybe I Won't

It's Not the End of the World

You're Saying It Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words--and Their Tangled Histories of Misuse

 

Back to work today, and walked in to find the critical piece of equipment controlling the wi-fi up and died over the break and teachers in a panic, so I'm making up for those 21 days. But it's totally worth it.  :)

 

ETA: Updated books read and page count because I finished my last book quicker than I expected on the 31st.

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text 2016-11-02 02:08
October reading wrap-up

22 books read in October - almost all of them for Halloween Book Bingo.  

 

I have never had so much fun playing a book themed game or challenge before and the credit is due to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for taking the time to put it together, run it and their generosity with prizes.  Credit is also due to everyone who participated; the shared enthusiasm kept the momentum going for a lot of us.  Congratulations to everyone who participated and had fun with it.  :)

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles - Illustrated - Arthur Conan Doyle  I only had one 5-star read - a reread of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle which feels like a gimme, because I love Sherlock Holmes and Hound is one of my favorites - even if I have to put up with chapters of Watson without Holmes around.  ;)

 

 

 

I had two 4.5 star reads:  Lethal Lifestyles by LynDee Walker  and The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby  - Lethal Lifestyles is the newest entry in one of my favourite series, and The Polysyllabic Spree is a non-fiction collection of Hornby's columns in The Believer.  It was so good, I've ordered the next three collections.

 

Lethal Lifestyles - LynDee Walker  The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby  

 

The Haunted Bookshop - Christopher Morley,Stephen Rudnicki  Only one disappointment this month - The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley, Stephen Rudnicki.  I disliked it - a lot.  I yelled at the car speakers frequently and I'm not sure why I didn't DNF it.

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text 2016-08-02 01:28
July Reading Rehash
As Death Draws Near - Anna Lee Huber
The Curse of Tenth Grave - Darynda Jones
Design for Dying - Renee Patrick
A Bed of Scorpions - Judith Flanders
Dear Committee Members - Julie Schumacher
Stephen Fry's Incomplete & Utter History of Classical Music - Tim Lihoreau,Stephen Fry

Even accounting for a handful of short books and one comic, I had a very good month at 24 books read in July.

 

I had one 5-star read this month: As Death Draws Near - Anna Lee Huber  

 

and four 4.5-star reads:

The Curse of Tenth Grave - Darynda Jones 

Design for Dying - Renee Patrick 

A Bed of Scorpions - Judith Flanders 

Dear Committee Members - Julie Schumacher 

 

I didn't rate anything this month below three stars, but my least favourite book this month was Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer and my biggest disappointment was How Not to Be A Dick.  Both because personal expectations interfered with reality, not because the books lacked merit.

 

Most of my reading in May and June was heavy on non-fiction, but this month I've read very little.  This is mainly due to the density of the one non-fiction I did get through: Stephen Fry's Incomplete & Utter History of Classical Music; an excellent, informative read that is quite slow going in spite of the constant stream of humour.

 

Hope everyone is pleased with their July reading and may all your August books be ace!  :)

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text 2016-06-10 20:00
Jules Just Read... May 2016
Girls on Fire - Robin Wasserman
Relatively Strange - Marilyn Messik
Another Love (No Greater Courage) - Amanda Prowse
I See You - Clare Mackintosh
The Insignificance of You - Tammy Robinson
Dear Thing - Julie Cohen

So, I got through 11 books in May, which is the same as I managed in April. It was a bit naughty of me to acquire 17 new books in May though, as I'm meant to be trying to acquire less books than I read each month, otherwise I'll never get on top of my to be read pile.

 

My main achievement in May was finally reading some paperbacks. I've only read one other paperback this year (back in February), but managed to squeeze 3 paperbacks in over the last month. I've learnt how to turn physical pages and use a bookmark all over again, yay!

 

Those of you who follow my monthly updates regularly will know that I normally have a Book of the Month, but having read so many 5 star books this month, I have found it impossible to choose just one, as I loved all six of my 5 star rating books for different reasons.

 

5 Star Ratings

 

Dear Thing

 

Dear Thing is a beautiful, emotional and intense read. At one point I couldn’t read the words through my own tears.

This book was almost impossible to put down. I was about half way through, when I decided to continue it first thing the following morning, with the intention of reading a few pages while I drunk my cup of tea in bed. My intended quick morning read, turned into me crawling out of bed two hours later, having finished the entire book.

 

 


Relatively Strange

 

After reading the first few words of this story, I knew I was going to love it.

“I was five when I discovered I could fly, sixteen when I killed a man. Both events were unsettling in their own way.”

Relatively Strange is a fascinating story about growing up when you’re somewhat different to most of those around you. Enriched with some wonderfully quirky characters, this story made me think of Mary Poppins as a child and The Worst Witch.

 

Although there is action and excitement in the story, for me personally I think the strength of this book is the focus on human nature. The differences between individuals. That it is okay to be different. The value of knowing the difference between right and wrong. Choosing to do good with the personal strengths we each have. I think every reader could benefit from being reminded of the power and influence we each hold as individuals, and the importance of making the right choices.

 

I highly recommend this to fans of both adult and young adult fiction, those who like their books to be a little unusual, and those who are driven by great characters.

 

 

Girls on Fire

 

This completely sucked me in from the very beginning, made me feel nostalgic about my own adolescence, messed around with my memories, distorting them, then spat me out the other end wondering which my real memories were, and which I’d just allowed to be shaped to fit along with the storyline.

If you’re like me, and grew up in the 1990s, loved rock music and lived in Doc Martens then this may be the story for you. I saved up for my first pair of Docs in 1991 when I was just 13 years old (my dad paid half) and I lived in that pair until I was 17, having to buy a new pair as I had worn the previous pair out.

Be warned, this is a dark, gritty and twisted story filled with all the complex challenges of being a teenager. If you’re willing to read about alcohol, drugs, sexual experimentation, bullying, insecurities, death, Satanism, and general pushing of boundaries, then I highly recommend this book.

 

 

I See You

 

I found this book really hard to put down, especially the second half, which I lived and breathed until the very last page. I’m sure this thriller made my heart stop beating, not once, but twice, having to briefly stop reading in order to catch my breath. I can feel my heart racing just thinking of a couple of specific moments within the book.

The short chapters written in italics throughout the story were rather creepy and gave me the heebie-jeebies.

It would be misleading of me to say this is in any way the same as a TV mini-series I absolutely loved back in the late 1990s called Killer Net, but a couple of things about it really reminded me of it, so made it all that more exciting for me. If you love the idea behind this book, you may wish to watch Killer Net, as I suspect you’ll enjoy it too.

Crikey, what an ending to a great thriller... and breathe!

This is a psychological crime thriller, and for someone like me, who loves psychological thrillers but isn’t a huge fan of crime and police procedural, I think this had the perfect balance.

 

 

Another Love

 

Wow, this was a surprisingly emotional read which even brought tears to my eyes.

Another Love is about a woman and her relationship with alcohol. I went into this thinking I probably wouldn’t get very emotionally involved, but I could not have been more wrong.

Firstly, reading a character being described as a “bookish ginger-haired, spectacle-wearing girl” (I’m sure I know one of those) helped to get me onside.

With regards to the alcoholism, it was the gradual increase that helped me connect. In fact, I very much saw myself in Romilly, as I’m sure many others will.

 

I have felt frustrated by characters in books before, but it has been a while since I’ve been this frustrated. Romilly’s uncontrollable drinking and self-destructive side drove me crazy at times. I wanted to shake sense into her and throw away the bottle of booze she got her hands on. This book really did fill me with an overwhelming frustration, and I even had to rant about Romilly to my husband, as if she was a real person I was trying to help.

 

 

The Insignificance of You

 

The Insignificance of You is a coming of age story filled with emotion and a lot of firsts. First loss, first kiss, first love…

I’m not a big reader of Young Adult fiction, but when I heard that Tammy Robinson had written a YA story, I just had to try it.

As always, this author has allowed me to get to know even more wonderful characters. I loved both of the main characters, Tai and Skye. I liked being able to read a YA book that wasn’t overly melodramatic. Although they are teenagers, they had a level of maturity and depth that I could relate to. I also liked Skye’s mum and grandma (she was called Bubbles. I want a grandma called Bubbles), and I enjoyed witnessing the relationship between the three generations of women, what life threw at each of them and how they each dealt with it.

I loved the lighthouse setting, and the description of the stars in the sky. When I moved to Cornwall a few years ago, I too was amazed by how incredibly beautiful a clear sky at night looks without lots of light pollution. I live in a little hamlet that doesn’t have street lamps, and I’ve been known the wrap up warm in winter and sit outside in the garden late at night looking at the stunning star filled sky until my neck hurts and my nose has gone numb. Truly magical.

 

 

4 Star Ratings

 

 

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

 

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding is about the devastation of war and the impact it had on one particular family, after an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

I loved the style this book was written in and the way the story gradually came together. In places this was rather an emotional read, but overall a compelling story that felt very real.

 

 

When She Was Bad

 

When She Was Bad is another great psychological thriller by Tammy Cohen.

This author is so good at creating well developed and believable characters. It’s probably the thing I love most about her books, and throughout this story, I struggled to know who to trust.

 

 

The Good Kind of Bad

 

Initially I had mixed feelings about this thriller. I found the first half of the book to be a little slow. I didn’t warm to any of the characters, and found a couple of them infuriatingly annoying, and wanted to shake sense into them. The second half of the book was much faster paced and very hard to put down.

 

Moral of the story for me, is don’t marry someone after only three weeks of knowing them. If you’re living a boring, predictable life, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Careful what you wish for, as Mrs Petrozzi got a little more than she bargained for!

 

 

3 Star Ratings

 

A Drop in the Ocean

 

Imagine having the opportunity to move into a little cabin on a remote tropical island with seabirds, turtles and hardly any other people. Well, that’s what happened to Anna Fergusson. This story was set in a great location with an interesting mix of characters.

Although I didn’t completely fall in love with the story, I did enjoy it, and found it to be an interesting and thought provoking read, covering the subjects of Huntington’s disease and the conservation of turtles, both of which are expanded upon in the facts section after the novel, which I thought was an interesting and important addition.

 

 

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

 

This was an interesting read, but I didn’t fall in love with it.

I connected more with Allison than I did the main character, Sophie Stark, so although I was really getting into it at the beginning, my connection abruptly ended when the story shifted from Allison to a variety of other characters connected to Sophie. I did read it to the end, and also enjoyed the focus on Daniel, but never really got back into it the way I did at the very beginning, which is a shame.

 

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