Tag Archive | Ben Elton

A to Z Reading Challenge 2011

Ok, so I’m a little late doing this, sorry, but better late than never eh!

In late 2010, I heard some people talking about reading novels from A to Z. I thought, what a brilliant idea, and decided to set myself a challenge of doing exactly that in 2011. As I was writing a blog about it, it occurred to me that other people may have the same idea. I googled A to Z Challenge and found this site – A to Z Challenge I didn’t have to start one all by myself!

I started with no plan at all, except to read the A to Z (author surname) in order, and stick pretty much to just those 26 books. In 2010 I’d read about 24 books, so knew I wasn’t going to be able to read many more than the 26.

Of course as time went by and I made my way through the challenge, I found there were other books I really wanted to read that either were a letter way further down the line, or that had a letter I’d already read, or already planned what I was going to read for it. I let myself read a couple of other novels – but only if I REALLY wanted to needed to.

I did cheat a little. Kinna. I didn’t actually finish 26 novels. There were 3 letters that for different reasons I didn’t finish the novel.

Letter L was Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee, I started it and was enjoying it, but it was all about sex, when this girl had it, where she had it and how much she thought about it. Nothing really wrong with that, but I do most of my reading on the tube, I felt embarrassed reading it on the tube, so picked up M, and told myself I’d read L at home. I never got round to it.

Letter O was a really good book – The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell. I got it from the library (a god send, I couldn’t have afforded 26 books in 1 year on top of the ‘really want ones’), and took it to Sweden when I went. I’m not sure if it was on the flight, at the hotel, or our friends’ house, but somewhere I lost it. Typical. I ended up having to pay it in the end anyway. I’d gone on to P while I was away, and just never got the opportunity to go back to it. At some point, I would like to buy it, or borrow it and finish reading it.

Letter Z was a hard one, which I started before a few other letters. I unexpectedly finished the novel I was reading on a Sunday and didn’t have a chance to go and get the next letter. Boyfriend came to the rescue and gave me a Z – Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. It was sci-fi which isn’t my choice, but I’d borrowed a couple off him in the years previously which I quite enjoyed. Lord of Light was not another one though. I just couldn’t get into, or really understand it. I gave it 50 or so pages, but couldn’t go on. When I gave it back to boyfriend, he said he’d had a hard job getting into it. Sigh.

So, I didn’t make 26 novels, but I started them all. In my book I finished it – yay!

Also, I didn’t review all, or add any of my review to the site, but to be honest, I didn’t find the website too easy to navigate, and lets face it, all I need is a little excuse and I won’t do something. I guess technically if I didn’t check-in, I didn’t really do it. In my mind I did though!

I’m really glad I did the challenge, I read a lot of authors that I’d never had done otherwise, and you know me, I love a challenge. But, I’d never do it again. I found it WAY too constrictive, and because I knew I couldn’t really read many other books, I felt guilty when reading one that wouldn’t go towards the challenge. There were times when I just HAD to read other books – like The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon and Faking It by Lotte Daley – and there were many, many more times when I wanted to read another book, but just couldn’t. There were also quite a few letters where I was so torn over which novel to read. M was a good example, I had about 3 books with the letter M on my TBR shelf at home. So what did I do? I went out and bought another. Typical! It was New Moon (Twilight) by Stephanie Meyer.

I discovered some brilliant authors because of the challenge though – Jeff Abbott, Allison Brennan, Ilana Fox Rob Ryan, Nancy Taylor Rosenburg and Minette Walters. Weird – most of the new good authors write thrillers… what does that tell me? I say I prefer women’s lit (chick-lit), but it’s a close call. I did discover new chick-lit authors, but when I discovered them, I read them out of sequence and out of the challenge because I just HAD to read them there and then (Ali McNamara and Lotte Daley)

I know all the books are listed on my ‘Books’ page, but here’s a list of them – from A to Z. Just for fun, I’m putting a comment and rating out of 5 after each one – not something I usually do. The ones which I have reviewed have the links to the actual review.

A Kiss Gone Bad by Jeff Abbott – brilliant. Can’t wait to read the other ones in the series – 4.5/5

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern – Prefered her earlier stuff, but still pretty good – 4/5 (I couldn’t choose between the As, so read them both)

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay – Loved it, love his work – 5/5

Fear No Evil by Allison Brennan – So happy I discovered her. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series 4.5/5 (ditto the comment re A for B)

The Famous Writer’s School by Stephen Carter – Not what I imagined. 2.5/5

Ex-Girlfiends United by Matt Dunn – Little slow 2.5/5

Past Mortem by Ben Elton – Good, he’s done better, but still good – 4/5

Spotlight by Ilana Fox – Didn’t expect to, but loved it 4.5/5

The Love Verb by Jane Green – As usual loved it – 4.5/5

This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes – Slow 2/5

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro – Couldn’t get over the cultural difference – 2/5

The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell – Once got into it, really enjoyed – 4/5

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson – Loved every second – 4.5/5

Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee – what I read was good. I will finish it at some point 3/5

Twilight: New Moon by Stephanie Meyer – Not as great as Twilight, but still good. 4/5

One Day by David Nicholls – Took a long time to get into it. Had me crying like a baby at the end though. 3.5/5

The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell* – I need to finish this – 3/5

Still Thinking of You by Adele Parks – as always a brilliant read from Ms Parks  4.5/5

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen – took ages to get into the story – 2.5/5

Trans Am by Rob Ryan – fast paced, gripping – 4.5/5

Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton – loved. Better than her first (and, you know –New York) – 4.5/5

Mitigating Circumstances by Nancy Taylor Rosenburg – Brilliant 4.5/5

Die for You by Lisa Unger – Not what I expected in a really good way. 4/5

The Birthday Present by Barbara Vine – slow, slightly boring. 2.5/5

The Sculptress by Minette Walters – Excellent – 4.5/5

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai by Ruiyan Xu – Really enjoyed it 4/5

Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto* – again, couldn’t get over the cultural differences 2/5

Lord of light by Roger Zelazny – just couldn’t get into it – sci-fi really isn’t my thing – 1/5

All in all, it was a good year, but I’m glad it’s over and I can read what I want to read, not what’s next on the list!

Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2011 and 2012

Back at the tail end of 2009, I discovered the brilliant Book Chick City, around the time of sign-ups for the Thriller & Suspense Challenge 2010 were happening. Was I tempted? Of course – 12 Thriller or Suspense books in 12 months. What a plan.


Plan didn’t go exactly to plan though, and at the end of December 2010 I was frantically reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger in the hope that I could finish it by the end of the year, and that it would count as a thriller/suspense. Someone else had added it as their book, so I figured I was good on that, then on 30th (I think) I finished it. Phew.


Even before I finished it, I knew I had to do it again, so after the slight name change to the Mystery & Suspense Challenge, I signed up again – promising myself to do better in 2011. 


I thought I was doing ok when we had about 2 months left, even though November was NaNo, so my reading time was limited. I was wrong I had 4 books left to read. Eek. Somehow I powered through the writing madness and continued to read. Then mid December I did a count up, and I’d actually read 13 books. Um, oops. How did that happen? Me thinks someone’s maths isn’t that great (counting to 12 – apparently it’s harder than it sounds!). Just to prove how bad my calculations are – I’ve just recounted, and only have 12. Hmm. Something odd is going on here!


Yay, I completed the challenge again. The only problem is that until today, I hadn’t posted my reviews for them all. Heck, I read them, that’s what counts.


Here’s the list of the books I read (with links to each full review and just a very quick, few worded review here):


January – A Kiss Gone Bad by Jeff Abbott – Brilliant, can’t wait to read the next 2 books in the series


February – Fear No Evil by Allison Brennan – Again, fab. Again can’t wait to read the other 2 books in the series.


February – Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay – I think Barclay is my favourite thriller author at the moment – says it all.


April – Past Mortem by Ben Elton – not as good as some of his other books, but still really good.


June – The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell – Love Jewell so much. This took me a while to get into, but once I was there I was hooked.


June – The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson – Love Koomson and everything she writes – this included.  


August – Every Last One by Anna Quindlen – Took me a while to get into this, and the whole pace was a bit too slow for me.


September – Trams AM by Rob Ryan – Brilliant. Loved from start to finish


October – Mitigating Circumstances by Nancy Taylor Rosenburg – Was hooked from the off – brilliant.


October – The Sculptress by Minette Walters – Love, love, love.


October – Die for You by Lisa Unger –


November – The Birthday Present by Barbra Vine (Ruth Rendell writing as) – slow, and bored me a little.


12 books, 12 months. I loved the challenge so much, that, yep, you guessed it, I’m doing it again in 2012 – yay!


Like the past 2 years, you don’t have to chose the books you are going to read for the challenge ahead of time, but I know for sure that I want to read the next one from each of the series’ by Jeff Abbott and Allison Brennan that I read in 2011. Other than that, I just don’t know, but can’t wait to find out.


Read more about the challenge here and if you’re interested sign up – it’s great – you won’t regret it!

Past Mortem by Ben Elton – Review

With old friends like these, who needs enemies?

It’s a question mild mannered detective Edward Newson is forced to ask himself when, in romantic desperation, he logs on to the Friends Reunited website in search of the girlfriends of his youth. Newson is not the only member of the Class of take back ’88 who has been raking over the ashes of the past. As his old class begins to reassemble in cyberspace, the years slip away and old feuds and passions burn hot once more.

Meanwhile, back in the present, Newson’s life is no less complicated. He is secretly in love with Natasha, his lovely but very attached sergeant, and failing comprehensively to solve a series of baffling and peculiarly gruesome murders. A school reunion is planned and as history begins to repeat itself, the past crashes headlong into the present. Neither will ever be the same again.

This is going to be very quick – sorry.

I love Ben Elton – this was the second of his I read in 2011 – and I thought it was good. Good, but not as good as some of his previous novels. Regardless, I still really enjoyed it, and totally recommend it!

#ROW80 Check-in 27th April

Oh dear, I’m failing on this. Actually I’m not, I’m just not doing as well as I’d like. Over the weekend I’m going to think about dropping my goals a little. But maybe with another 4 day weekend (thank you so much William & Kate) I’ll be able to catch up a little.

The thing is, I may not be doing as well as I’d like – but I’m still doing more than I was before I started this challenge. To me that’s a win!

I’ve still not done any more than 30 minutes on my writing course, and no editing at all, but I’m writing. Maybe over the weekend I’ll dedicate a whole day to working on this stuff. At the moment I’ve got no plans for 3 of the days, so that’s totally doable!

I’m not really even finding the time at the moment to read. As much as I love my 25 minute door to door commute, I miss sitting on a tube for 20 minutes and reading, especially as I’m only on E for the A-Z challenge. I should be on H or I by now. Oops. I’m not at all worried about this though, I can catch up when I go on holiday in the summer. Maybe I’ll try to finish this book over the weekend.

I’m reading Ben Elton’s Past Morten. I’m not loving it as much as other books I’ve read of his (This Other Eden and Meltdown spring to mind), but I think that may be because I’m reading the hardback so it’s a bit of a pain to carry round and to hold when reading. It is good though, if not a little graphic.

Exciting Stuff

Actually quite a few exciting (to me anyway) things to write about today.  Yay.

Most importantly – I’ve finished reading the modules I needed to for my writing course.  That means I can get on with the assignment now.  Yay.  This morning I read through the first section and have made notes.  Can’t wait to get started, except I have a few ideas and don’t know which one to go with.  It’s only 750 words, so I might try more than one and use the best.  Something I’ve done with every assignment I’ve handed in so far.

Also at the end of last week I finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl.  Ah, it was great.  I actually laughed out loud at one part.  I think I was on the tube at the time.  Laughing I don’t mind on the tube, it’s crying that I don’t like doing.   

I only wanted to read it because it was by Sophie Kinsella and I love her books.  The idea didn’t interest me all that much.  But, I’m really glad I did.  I actually think it would make a very funny movie.  I can just picture her talking to the ghost, but everyone else seeing her talk to thin air.

So, I finished the novel I was reading; I finished the modules I was reading for my course; I had nothing to read.  Until… I went to my boyfriend’s and he convinced me to take one of his Sci-fi novels.  Somthing he’d been trying to do for a while as I don’t read Sci-fi, and he thinks I should.  He’d only just finished reading it, and the week prior had told me all about it – it actually sounded really good.  I’m a few chapters in, and am really enjoying it. 

BUT, in my mind I don’t classify it as Sci-fi.  It was written in I think the 1960s (correction – 1953) and is about a world in the future.  Which I guess yeah IS sci-fi, but hey.  I’ve just discovered it’s the first in a series… this could be bad.  I-Robot is part of the series too – the book that was turned into a Will Smith film.  From what I remember I really enjoyed the film – it will be interesting to see what I think when I read that book.  (I’m not looking forward to seeing my boyfriend after he reads this – he’ll be so triumphant that I’m not only enjoying this book, but that I want to read more!).

It’s kind of made me realise a few books I’ve read in the past probably go in the Sci-fi bracket.  Well, at least one.  Can’t remember the name, but it was a Ben Elton book set in the future.  Yeah, I guess Sci-fi.  And maybe The Time Traveller’s Wife.  Although I’d class it as romance, I guess the whole time travelling thing is.

Oh oh, something else exciting.  I subscribe to a newsletter from the Creative Competitor website.  because I’m subscribed I can get a free copy of a 20 page booklet called Quick and Easy Creative Writing Prompts.  I’ve just received it.  Woop!

I’m sure there was more exciting stuff going on.  But I can’t remember. 

I’m going to the gym this evening for the first time in about 3 months.  I think I went a couple of times in January.  It’s so much easier to think about doing that when it’s light when I leave work! 

Final exciting thing – Flash Forward is back tonight.  I’m so excited! A Double episode too. Oh yay!

Cold Monday’s woes!

So much for blogging this weekend.  Saturday= hideous hangover.  Sunday= work + helping boyfriend move.  Therefore no blogging or writing. 

I still haven’t made any decisions over what I’m going to work on next.  I want to do holiday, but there’s just something stopping me.  I’d quite like a small project to work on next – maybe a short story or something, but I don’t seem to have any ideas.  Is this the lull that people say can occur after NaNo, or is it just me being lazy?  From tomorrow, no today actually, I’m going to set myself a 250 word a day goal.  I know I can do that pretty easily, I managed it in October anyway, so should be able to do it.  Work’s pretty quiet at the moment so I have the time (although I’ll use the excuse I’m spending a lot of time looking for Christmas presents on the internet so using it wisely!).

I’ve not got very far with the book I’m reading.  It’s Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress.  I like it so far, it’s almost started as a love story, which is a great way to get me hooked!  I’m not sure I’m going to understand it, I don’t understand the synopsis on the back cover, so who knows how I’m meant to understand the book.  We will see.

Meg Gardiner asked her readers on her blog today, what were their favourite books they read this year.  When I first read it I though that would be a great question, that I’d read loads of books, and it would be great fun going through them all to find which were my favourite.  Oh dear.  I’ve actually only read (or recorded here anyway) 17 books this year.  That’s shocking, I swear I used to read about 3/4 a month.  I need to step up on my reading next year. 

I then read through my list of books, and found that I read quite a lot of books that I wasn’t very impressed with, and loved?  Not many.  I wanted to do as other people had done and create a top ten.  I can’t put my hand on my heart and say I have 10 favourite books of 2009.  Out of the 17 I’ve read, I really enjoyed 3 and only loved 3.  6 out of 17.  That’s terrible.  The rest were either terrible (only a couple) or just ok.  The three I loved are:

The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner

High Society by Ben Elton

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

And the three I really enjoyed are:

Singletini by Amanda Trimble

Brown Girls by John Wesley Ireland

Perfect: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Not much to show for a year’s reading. But at least there’s six I really enjoyed.  I will read more next year!  Better stop this and go read some….

Today’s thoughts

There are not enough hours in the day.  Fact.  If there were more hours in the day I would be able to fit in everything I am dying to do each day.  I’d like to:

Spend lots of time writing random things – free writing etc.

Spend time writing my novel.

Read.  Lots.

Search for a job I’d actually enjoy.

Continue with my writing course.

Sleep more.

Lots of other stuff I can’t remember.

Or maybe if we could have a longer weekend – say three days, maybe even four.  I’d like to go on and on about this, but I simply don’t have the time.

I’m re reading the last modules for my writing course – they teach the nitty gritty behind writing an article.  A thought came to me the other day – writing an article is similar to writing an essay at school: First you research; then you look at all the information you have; you plan the order you’re going to write it; write it; then edit it.  Only hopefully make it more interesting than a school essay!  Having had this thought, I am now feeling more confident about writing one.  I think I’d be even more confident about it if I was happy with the subject matter.  I like it, I’m just not all that sure about it. 

Oh no.  I’ve just found something to take up more of my time – today at least.  Last night the man in my life told me about an idea for a novel he’d had (he is on fire at the moment), but he didn’t think he’d be able to write it.  It’s kind of comedy/dark humour/mystery.  Think kind of Ben Elton-ish.  I also don’t think I’d be able to write something like that, but for something to write today, I’m writing a synopsis for it.  It sounds really good.  Maybe one day…

That’s all folks.  Why oh why do I love that so much?