Tag Archive | 1984

Really Good Books

I was thinking earlier it would be really good to do a blog today. Then I started wondering what I could write – it’s not like I’m actually writing is it. So that would leave… reading. I’m really enjoying the book I’m reading now Jeff Abbott’s A Kiss Gone Bad, and the thought of that led me to… I’m reading a lot of really good books at the moment.

In 2009 I only read 17 or something books, and only a handful of them really stood out. I think I tried to do a top ten books I read that year, but didn’t have a top ten. There just weren’t enough good ones there.

Last year was the opposite. I read 45 books, and enjoyed a huge number of them. So, what better way to spend a blog, than with my top books of last year. I was thinking top ten, but going through my list, I’ve actually made a top twenty. Hope it’s not too boring:

YA:

  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (I only read this to prove to people I wouldn’t like it. I loved it. I think it’s my favourite book of the year)
  • Avalon High by Meg Cabot (When I was researching YA novels before writing mine, I knew I had to read one of Ms Cabot’s books – the queen of teen and all that)
  • Summer Dreams Winter Love by Mary Francis Shura (this was my favourite book growing up, and I wanted to read it again. It still had that magic)
  • Della Says… OMG by Keris Stainton (I loved the sound of this when I started following Keris’ blog, and was lucky enough to get invited to her launch party where she signed the book. After all that I was so glad I loved it)

Chick Lit:

  • Love Lies by Adele Parks (I got given a small booklet on the street. It was the first two chapters. I couldn’t read just that, I had to get the whole book and read it.  But then I love Adele Parks so would have had to get it at some point anyway)
  • Foursome by Jane Fallon (This is the best book I read in this category. I loved everything about it, and will definitely be on the lookout for more books by her)
  • Husbands by Adele Parks (what can I say? I love the lady, I had to read more than one)
  • The Happy Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman (I got a copy of this from the publisher to review. I was pretty scared I wouldn’t like it then there would be loads of pressure on me to say something nice about it. Luckily it was great – it was Rowan Coleman, of course it was great)
  • The Baby Group by Rowan Coleman (ditto the great comment above)
  • What My Best Friend Did by Lucy Dawson (another that is in my top three of the year I imagine. Great. Not sure if it’s really chick lit, but I think it belongs here)
  • Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell (I read this when it came out ten years ago,  but after winning a ticket to an evening with Lisa, I thought I should re-read it before I went. So glad I did, I’d forgotten how good it was. And Lisa Jewell – she’s awesome and funny, and has a great story of how she got published. I like the idea that mine could go the same way…)

Thrillers:

  • Until It’s Over by Nicci French (my step mum gave me this, saying she loved it. Well, so did her step daughter)
  • The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner (Although this is only the second book of hers I’ve read, I am a huge Meg Gardiner fan, and this is my favourite book. Can’t wait to start on her other series of books)
  • Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay (Again second book of his I’ve read. Again this is my favourite)
  • Random by Craig Robertson (I got this free from the publisher because of doing the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. It’s his debut book, and it’s brilliant)
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo & The Girl Who Played with Fire both by Stieg Larsson (I only picked the first up because of the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge. I was so glad I did. I watched the movie too – it sucked)

 Sci-Fi:

  • The Caves of Steel by Asimov (I read this on recommendation from the other half. He thought I should read something DIFFERENT, so I did. I didn’t want to enjoy it, but I did. I want to read the rest in the Robot series)
  • 1984 by George Orwell (It’s a classic – I had to read it at some time. This was the year. It totally deserves the hype it gets)

I really hope 2011 is as good for books as last year was. I’m on book three, and so far it’s certainly shaping up that way!

What were your favourite books from last year?

Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 Round-Up

Around Christmas I wrote a blog and in it had a big long moan about how badly I thought I’d done in this challenge. After that I sat down and worked out what thriller or suspense books I’d read throughout the year and was shocked to realise I’d actually read 11. Wow! I then thought about all the other books I’d read over the year, and went over to the host of the challenge Book Chick City to see what other people had read. shockingly someone had reviewed Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I wasn’t too sure if it was a thriller or suspense, but as someone else had used it, guess what? I’m really happy to use it.

So that means… I completed the challenge. WOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO! The thing I haven’t done is review all the books yet, but I will get there. Here’s the list of them – the highlighted ones are linked to the review. The unhighlighted ones will have a review as soon as I can add it.

There you have it, my 12 books. I’m really happy I did it. I think the challenge pushed me to read more thrillers than I would have normally done, because I tend to favour chick lit and romance. I don’t know why I do that, I really love thrillers.

One of my aims of doing this challenge was to introduce myself to new authors. I certainly did that. The first book I read, a Sandra Brown book, I only picked up because of the challenge. I was so glad I did – I totally love both of her books I read during the challenge. I can’t wait to read more of hers.

Nicci French was introduced to me by my Step Mum. Again because I told her about the challenge so she gave me that book. I totally loved it, and will be looking out for more Nicci French books this year, and in the future.

Simon & Schuster sent all the people in this challenge an ARC of one of two novels. I was so happy I got Random by Craig Robertson. I hated the goreiness of it, but loved that at the same time. Last time I saw his update on Twitter, he was writing a new book. When it gets published I’ll be first in line to read it.

I honestly wouldn’t have read Asimov if it wasn’t for this challenge and my boyfriend convincing me it would work really well for the challenge. Sci-fi? Me? Nah! But, yeah. I actually enjoyed it. So much so, I’m going to read the other books in the Robot series. I don’t think I’ll read any others of his though, Sci-fi does still… I was going to say scare me, but I think it just doesn’t interest me that much. Hopefully he’ll (the boyfriend) will bully (!!) me into reading more of Asimov, or maybe another sci-fi writer – and he’ll find something easy-reading that I’ll ‘get’.

I’ve had the Judith Cutler book (and another) for years and didn’t pick it up in all that time. This challenge made me pick it up. I’ll definitely be reading the other one I’ve got of her’s (Dying to Fall) and probably the rest of that series.

That’s it. All the others I think I would have read anyway. But that’s pretty impressive – five authors that now I’ll be looking out for, that would have pasted right by me without the challenge.

I’m really impressed with how much I enjoyed the books I chose for this challenge. Looking at this list, I can genuinely say I loved each and every one of them. How good is that?!

I only have one small regret to come from this challenge. At the beginning of 2010 I looked around the internet and got recommendations of authors from people/places (including other people taking the challenge) and got a list of authors I wanted to read. But, I didn’t read any of them. That upsets me. But I’ll get over it. Just because the challenge is over… doesn’t mean I have to stop reading thrillers & suspense novels.

Plus… You never know what other challenges will be round the corner in 2011…

Another Evening Blog

I have honestly not had any time to blog over the last two days. I know sometimes I use that as an excuse, when I probably could’ve done – but this time I really haven’t. Work’s been busy, and I’ve been using any quiet time there to job hunt. I’ve applied for I think 4 or 5 jobs and sent my CV off to an agency. Considering it takes me about an hour to edit my CV and cover letter each time, I’m pretty happy with that.

I have managed to do writing over the last couple of days. On Tuesday I started writing from a prompt from Novelkicks: ‘Your flight is delayed so you sit next to a stranger.’ I love this prompt. I’m now on day 3 of using it to write, and I think about 1,100 words in. Pretty good. I’m really enjoying it. I’m trying to use it as practice at both describing someone and describing fancying someone you just meet. That’s an important part of Italian Infatuation, so good practice. Although I like what’s happening so much, I’d like to at some point use it for something. I was thinking it would fit pretty well into Holiday (the novel I’ve written about 20,000 words of), the MC is a lot like the MC here. I’m not sure if or how I could put it in, but it’s a thought.

I finished 1984 on Tuesday night. I was really impressed with it. I loved the way George Orwell wrote it, and loved the story. I was a tiny bit disappointed at the ending, but I think it was the right ending. I’ll definitely be reading more Orwell. I’ve got to be honest, I don’t get the political references in the novel, but as a story I liked it and don’t have a problem with my ignorance. There is part of me that wants to understand, but that bit is taking its usual step back in order for me to do other things. One day…

I’ve started a new book, which I am LOVING. It’s What My Best Friend Did by Lucy Dawson. From the first paragraph I was totally drawn in, and by the end of the first chapter I was hooked. It ended with the MC wishing her best friend that was in intensive care would die… I don’t even have the words to describe how I feel about that, except: I have to read more. It’s getting more intense as it goes through, and I think I’ve just worked something out, that’s going to keep me hooked until the end. How? What? Why? Or Why Not? It’s just really good.

I’m planning on finishing it this weekend, because I want to start American God’s by Neil Gaiman early next week. It’s the first book that’s been chosen for the Twitter experiment One Book One Twitter. The plan is to get as many people as possible on Twitter to read the same book. I have no idea how many people are reading over the eight weeks it’s taking place – but it’s about to be one more! To be honest it’s not a book I would’ve chosen to read myself, which I kind of think is a good thing. Already the experiment is great for me – it’s broadening my horizons.

I’ve just ruined the rest of the Twilight saga for myself. Stephanie Meyer has just released a novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Bree is a ‘newborn’ vampire that is seen in Eclipse (the 3rd book in the series) for a brief time, but she stayed in Mayer’s mind so created her own novella. From now until 5th July (my birthday!) you can read it online for free. I really wanted to, but wasn’t sure if I should, I mean, there might be something in it that showed something that happened in the second or third novels that might wreck it for me. So I asked Twitter if it would spoil anything, and thought I’d read the introduction while I waited to see if anyone would reply to me. Oops. There’s something in the introduction that’s kind of spoilt anything else I read from it. Damn.

For the longest time, I didn’t want to read any more books in the series after Twilight. I cannot explain how much I loved Twilight and had heard the rest of the books don’t compare. I thought I didn’t want to dilute my feelings for the first one by reading something not as good – plus the second apparently focuses on Bella and another guy, not Bella and Edward. I wanted it to be Bella and Edward. But, something’s happened over the last few weeks, and I’ve started wanting to read them. I think it’s this Bree Tanner novella actually. Anyway, I’m going to read them. There just won’t be a surprise at some point as I know a pretty major plot. Damn me. A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine changed her status on Facebook to ‘ I want Edward and Bella love.’ I know what she means. I think that’s a brilliant, and so accurate, compliment to Meyer’s writing (I do too!)

Right, I’m off to bed to read more of What My Best Friend Did. Tomorrow is Fiction Friday AND Rowan Coleman’s Status Short Story Friday. I’ve not taken part in RCSSSF for weeks, so really want to do that tomorrow. I might prioritise that over Fiction Friday to make sure I get it done. It’s just a little harder, cause I have to think of a story myself, rather than having a prompt there for me! Oh well, I’ll think of something. I hope.

An Evening Post – What a Novelty

I don’t know if I remember ever writing a blog in the evening. I’m sure I must have done at some point in the last 16 months. 16 months, yeah that’s how long I’ve been blogging. Craziness.

Today’s been quite a good day. I applied for a job, wrote about 350 words from a prompt from the Novelkicks website (which I managed to make the beginnings of a love story!) and carried on adding blogs to Google Reader.

Google Reader. I am going to LOVE it. All the blogs I read on WordPress I obviously can read on here, but there are loads of blogs that are on other servers (is it a server? website? I dunno) that I’ve never had easy access to. I know I could’ve subscribed to them, but my inbox gets full enough without emails every time someone updates their blog coming in too. But Google Reader? I can have them all in one place. Its going to be a revelation. Once I’ve added everyone’s blogs. And that’s going to take a while.

I’m nearly at the end of 1984, still loving it. It’s just got a bit nasty. Teeth, rats. Ugh. I also accidently read the final words today. I was seeing where it ends, cause it ends before the end of the book, when I found it and somehow read the last words. Which has kind of wrecked it. Really annoyed with myself. I’m still going to enjoy getting to the end though.

I think once I’ve finished it, I’ll be needing something pink and fluffy. I’ve heard a rumour my housemate’s just got Girl Friday by Jane Green. That would suit. But she takes forever to read books, so I probably won’t get a look in until August. I’ve got After The Party by Lisa Jewell, but I think I’m still not in the right place emotionally to be able to read it. It’s about a couple that were once so right for each other falling apart. After my recent break up, I don’t think it’s something I should be reading. Whatever happens in the end (whether they get back together or not) it’s likely to upset me.  I’m going to have to leave it a big longer before I read it. Which is a shame, because I really want to read it.

There’s a book that a couple of people have recommended I read called Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert which has been made into a film. I’m thinking of trying a theory. I generally hate movies that have been books I like… so what if I watch the film, then read the book? I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. But I might try it with this.

I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about an experiment that’s happening on Twitter called One Book, One Twitter. The idea is that as many people as possible on Twitter read the same book at the same time – American Gods by Neil Gaiman. That ‘same time’ is May and June. I really wanted to be part of it, but only have a few weeks left to read it. So that really should be my next book. The library doesn’t have it, and I’m a little broke at the moment, so I don’t know if that will happen. I think it’s worth not eating for a few days to be part of that, it’s cool. Plus, I won’t really not eat, I’m not that broke!

Right, I think that’s all for now. I think I’ll go and write a few job application cover letters. Oh goodie!

I have a feeling I’m going to be writing and blogging a lot over the next few weeks as I’ll be procrastinating over job hunting!

Something monumental happened over the weekend. I started editing Italian Infatuation. When I say editing, it’s mainly actually crossing out. The first three pages went straight away, as did half the fourth page. Oh dear. But, at least I’ve started it.

What I’ve decided to do (what I decided once I started doing it anyway) is go through crossing bits out, circling bits to move and adding notes of what needs to go where – on the paper copy. Then when I’ve done that I’ll go through on the computer and make the changes and add the bits I need to add. I have no idea if that’s the right way to go about it, but I think it’s going to work for me. I hope. Hey, it’s a learning curve, if it goes wrong I can start again!

The thing I noticed immediately on reading it, is how much better, tighter, my writing’s got in the last six months. (Ok, I’ve just had a little heart attack that it’s six months since I finished the first draft – seriously where has the time gone??!). The dialogue I’ve read so far just seems  unrealistic and there are so many extra words that just aren’t needed. I’m worried my 50,000  word novel is going to end up about 20,000 when I’ve finished with it. I guess it won’t cause I know there’s lots more I need to add in.

I can’t believe having just decided I need a new job, I’ve started editing the novel. How many time-consuming things can I fit in my life?

Last night, as I was going to bed I thought of a conversation that I should put in the story I’m going to write for Rowan Coleman’s Short Story Competition. I knew I’d forget it if I didn’t write it down, so did. 244 words later I had 1/4 of the story. It’s so typical that I think up something great (I hope) late at night – it couldn’t come to me during the day could it? I guess I should just be happy that ideas are coming to me.

I’m still loving 1984. I was reading it on the tube this morning, and just as it pulled into the station something really exciting happened. Agh. I hate it when that happens. I think I’ll be spending my lunch break reading today.

Wednesday’s Woes

‘Woes’ is maybe a little strong, but I like the alliteration. And really, I am going to have a little moan.

It’s my own fault – no one forced me to drink copious amounts of (free!!) champagne last night. There was no gun to my head – but like I said, it was FREE! How can you not?

So obviously I’ve not done any writing today. Or any editing of my writing course assignment, or Italian Infatuation. Damn. Yesterday I also did a pretty bad show of writing – 158 words. Not good enough. So much for June being a new start. Tomorrow! Definitely tomorrow!

Actually no, I’m going to try to write something when I get home. I won’t feel like it, but tucked up in bed I’m sure I can stretch to 250 words. Surely I can. The only reason I didn’t make it that high yesterday was that I ran out of time at work then was out all night (then it didn’t even cross my mind after the 3rd or 4th champagne!).

I did really enjoy Sex and The City 2 though. I’ve heard it got pretty bad reviews, but it was exactly what I expected, and I went home feeling warm, fuzzy and happy. Just what you want.

I have done a couple of productive things today. First I updated my ‘Currently Reading’ picture to the side of my blog to show 1984. I also updated my Reading/Read page with the novels I’ve read recently. Then I added links from that page to the novels I’ve reviewed. Oh, I also went through the books I’ve read for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge and wrote the books I need to review. And emailed my ex to ask him to set up my T&SRC page so I can add them there too. And now I’ve nearly done a blog. See, the day’s not been a waste afterall.

Tomorrow I’ll get on with some writing, and my writing course. No excuses!

So now I’m back, From outerspace… eh no, from Italy

It may as well be a different planet though – when we left Rome it was HOT and SUNNY and now in London it’s COLD and RAINING. So cold I’ve had the heater on today. How depressing (if being back from holiday wasn’t depressing enough in itself!)

While I was away I finished reading Love Lies by Adele Parks. It was great – so good I had to stay up late the last night I read it to finish it. Do you ever wish you coud read through closed eyes? I totally did. But was pleased I made the effort. Total chick lit bliss. I just need to keep in mind it’s fiction not real life. The beginning sort of echoed mine and so I don’t want to be thinking now that it could happen. 

I read a book once, a chick lit book, that actually changed my life. I think had I not have read it at that time I wouldn’t have made a decision that totally changed my life. Weird eh. It was Straight Talking by Jane Green – no wonder she’s one of my favourite authors of all time!

Once I’d finished that book, I started on another. A few months ago I decided I need to read some classic books as pretty much all I read is chick lit, romance and crime/thrillers and want to expand my reading. Plus there’s always those things that tell you the 100 or 1000 books you should read before you die – I’m always lacking in them. So, when I was in a book shop with my mum she offered to buy me a book (yes, I have the best mum in the world!) and next to where we were standing was 1984 by George Orwell. Decision made. But obviously I’d not picked it up – until now.

I am loving it, when you consider how long ago it was written (I think 1949 ish) it doesn’t seem dated at all. Even though it was written so long ago and set in the future, which is now the past it doesn’t seem dated. In fact, I keep thinking that you could change the name to 2084 and it could seem like it’s a novel set in the future.

It reminds me a lot of a sci-fi book I read recently – The Caves of Steel by Asimov. His was also set in the future and although his future wasn’t as strict, I keep thinking they’re very similar. Regardless, I’m really enjoying it. I should’ve picked it up months/years ago.

I didn’t do any writing while I was away. I did think about it, but the thought didn’t go as far as getting up and finding some paper. For once I actually don’t care that I didn’t do anything – I was on holiday and why should holiday mean holiday from one type of work to be doing something else. Not that I consider writing work, but you know what I mean.

Just before I left I did take one HUGE step. I got my printer synced with my computer (well… it did it itself – LOVE that computer) and printed out the first draft of Italian Infatuation. I didn’t read it or anything, but at least I now have a hard copy of it that I can start editing. It’s a small step, but at least it’s a step in the right direction!

I’m going to try to edit my writing course assignment this week. I wrote the four sections before I went away so in theory all I need to do is edit them (all I need to do!), BUT, for the second section you had to choose 2 out of 6 prompts to take. I wanted to have a go at 4, then choose the 2 I thought were the best to send off. I don’t know if I’ll do that now, or just stick to the 2 I’ve done. I’ll think about it tonight and get started on it one way or another tomorrow.

As it’s June now, I’m going to come up with a plan for myself to get my motivation going again after holiday. I’m not sure what yet, but it will probably involve writing 250 words a day at least 6 days a week, and writing at least 5 blogs a week. If I’ve got a written plan I should be able to stick to it. Should.

Totally unrelated – I’m going to see Sex and the City tonight at a private showing with cocktails and canapes. It’s so true it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!