Monthly Archives: January 2010

Gaskella’s Midweek Miscellany #1

I won’t deny that I get loads of ideas and inspiration for posts and blog improvements from other blogs – don’t we all? A huge thank you to everyone who’s inspired me in this way. Something a lot of bloggers do, and I haven’t so far, is a regular round-up post. Doing a quick survey, Simon at Savidgereads does his… Read more »

But darling the virus won’t affect us, will it?

The Death of Grass by John Christopher The 1950s saw an explosion of science fiction and cultural dystopias. In 1951 there was John Wyndham’s ground-breaking novel Day of the Triffids, followed by Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in 1953. Then there was Quatermass on the television. William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies was also published in 1954. Then in 1956… Read more »

A tale of two families at war with themselves

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan There is a much used quote of Leo Tolstoy’s from Anna Karenina: -“All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This is particularly true to the two chronicled in this novel. Firstly we meet Meridia. Her mother Ravenna had nearly died giving birth to her, and… Read more »

Five of the best YA books you haven’t read …

Today I’m taking part in a blog blitz organised by Kelly at YAnnabe. Kelly has been researching librarything to find YA books that LT users have rated really highly, but that not many people own, then asking people who own them to champion them. I was only too happy to oblige, as I feel that the very best YA books… Read more »

Simon’s Meme – What Your Books Say About You

Simon T at Stuck in a book developed this meme. Simon S at Savidgereads has since done it, and both have made fascinating reading. It’s a development of the ten random things about yourself type of meme. So I thought I’d have a go too. Here’s how to do it… 1.) Go to your bookshelves… 2.) Close your eyes. If… Read more »

An Evening with Ali Shaw & Book Giveaway

It was off to Mostly Books last night to see one of the best new young authors around. Ali Shaw’s debut novel is the magical and wonderful The Girl With Glass Feet which I reviewed here.I have a signed copy of the new paperback to giveaway. See the end of the post for details… But back to Ali whose own… Read more »

Starting the Canongate Myths series …

A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong One of my reading resolutions for 2010 is to read the entire Canongate Myths series – re-tellings of age old stories by great authors. While I’m not intending to read them in strict publication order necessarily, (I managed to snaffle a copy of the latest addition Orphans of Eldorado by Milton Hatoum… Read more »

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien Now – considering that I last read The Hobbit, aged around twelve, many, many years ago – before starting to re-read the book, ask me what I remember of it apart from Bilbo and Gandalf? I would answer, “Gollum and the ring, and Smaug the dragon, but particularly Gollum.” I was surprised to… Read more »

The First Detective Novel

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins This was my bookgroup’s Christmas read – we like to pick something classic for festive reading. This was a popular choice, as several of us, me included, have read Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, the real-life Victorian murder case which inspired Collins. I started reading well before Christmas, but somehow didn’t gel with… Read more »

gaskella on normblog

Today, I’ve been appearing over at normblog. Normblog is the blog of distinguished academician Norman Geras who is Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of Manchester, he’s husband to Adèle and father to Sophie Hannah. While Norm’s main concerns are politics and his many short posts every day make fascinating reading, every Friday Norm profiles a blogger – and… Read more »

The LOTR Readalong

I’ve joined a readalong! I don’t usually do challenges or readalongs, as I have enough personal literary challenges in my reading resolutions without joining in any others. Also, like Simon at Savidgereads, I’m a big fan of what he calls “whimsical reading” and not over-tying myself into pre-planned reading. However, one of my reading resolutions for 2010 was to try… Read more »

Running away from country ways and city life – a family’s dilemma

The Good Parents by Joan London This accomplished novel starts off as the story of eighteen year old Maya de Jong, a girl from Western Australia who escapes the country to get a job in Melbourne. She works for Maynard Flynn, a slightly shady businessman, and it’s not long before they embark on an affair. His wife is dying of… Read more »

Complicated emotions are explored in this big novel

The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale This was the last novel I finished reading in 2009, and it was solid yet gripping, a satisfying read that explores big and complicated emotions – yet I’ve struggled in my thoughts about how to do it justice in a review. Where to start? Examining the cover gives a clue to the two strands of… Read more »

Here are my snowy pictures …

It was glorious sunshine in Abingdon today. We’re lucky to live on the doorstep of a lovely park and I took the camera with me today when my daughter and I went for a wander. Many of yesterday’s snowmen had been cannibalised to make launch ramps for sledging. With all the local schools being closed for the second day, everyone… Read more »

America has never looked better…

The USA Book: A Journey Through America by Carla Zimmerman Last year a copy of the compact version of Lonely Planet’s The Travel Book came into my hands and it was a fascinating but brief tour around the world. (See my write-up here.) That small sized book was a lavish 900 page brick, so when offered the full size version… Read more »

This is not a Whodunnit, but a Whydunnit!

Rupture by Simon Lelic This is not a normal whodunnit crime novel, it’s a ‘whydunnit’. We know from the start that a mild-mannered school teacher shot and killed three pupils and a teacher before turning his gun on himself. It’s D.I. Lucia May’s case and although it appears to be an open and shut case, she doesn’t believe it’s as… Read more »