Tag Archive | Jane Green

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!

(Untitled Blog)

I need to stay away from Facebook. It’s bad for me. Well, it’s bad for my writing. I’ve been saying for weeks that it is my life at the moment that’s conspiring against me from writing and blogging, and for a while it was. But this week, it’s definitely been Facebook. Or more specifically the games on there. I am obsessed with Bubble Spinner. It’s like a game I was obsessed with a uni – which I’ve totally forgotten the name of. I think I’ve got an obsessive personality (apparently it runs in families, and my dad totally has – I had no hope!)

I finished Fear No Evil by Allison Brennan yesterday. I loved it. During the first half, I spent most of the time questioning why I was enjoying it and reading it, when the topic was so nasty and was pretty gory. But the way it’s written just draws you in, and I loved the characters. This book is the final in a trilogy – I’ve not read the first two, but I really want to go back and read them (when I’m not doing an A to Z challenge).  The MCs in the first and second are siblings of one of the MCs in Fear No Evil so I kind of know them, althoug I’m not as keen to read them as I would be if it was the same MC  (Dillon the MC in this one is awesome – you know if it was a film you’d totally fancy him).

I’ve just realised I’m totally behind with my reviews for books for both the A to Z challenge and the Mystery & Suspense challenge. Hmmm. Will have to rectify that sometime. Maybe I’ll wait until I have the week off and catch up then. So far I’ve read 2 for the Mystery & Suspense and A and B for the alphabet one. Or more technically A and A and B. I’m just about to start another B… oops… But… it’s also another for the M&S challenge, so all good. I guess. Kind of.

That paragraph I wrote about Fear No Evil was almost a book review. Hmmmm. Might have to use that!

The next book I’m going to read is Linwood Barclay’s Fear the Worst. I bought it last weekend, but don’t have a clue what it’s about. I bought it totally on the author’s reputation. I’ve read two of his books and loved them, so when I saw another I had to have it.

Imagine… being an author whose books people buy on the knowledge of your writing. Cecelia Ahern, whose book The Book of Tomorrow I read earlier in the month, is the same – I picked that up because I knew I had to read more of her writing if it was available. It didn’t matter what it was about. Marian Keyes, Jane Green, Lisa Jewell and Dan Brown are some of those people. There are more, I know there are more, but I can’t think of them now. 

Ok, I’m off to bed – I have another full day of packing and moving stuff across London (literally all the way across – from North West to South East – we must be nuts!)

Mostly About Books

I had a plan today. I planned to read the next chapters of my writing course. However I stupidly left the book in the back office and I’m sat on reception. Doh! I’ll work on it this afternoon. I will, I will, I will.

I got a book in the post today. It’s only another prize from a competition I entered! This book’s really exciting for me, as it’s a) not available in England and b) an author I’ve never heard of – this could be a whole new discovery for me!

The competition was one of those ‘be the first to comment…’ over on The Lady Loves Books. The book is ‘At Home with the Templetons’ by Monica McInerney. Can’t wait to get started on it.

This may sound a little stupid, but I had a realisation this morning. I’m currently reading Husbands by Adele Parks. I bought the book a few months ago in one of those library sales I love. This morning though, as I walked between tubes (hurried should I say, not cause I was late, but cause I wanted to read more) I realised that before I started reading the novel I didn’t know what it was about.

‘Why’s that?’ you ask? It’s because I bought it without looking at the back. I knew it was Adele Parks, and I knew I hadn’t read it, so I had to buy it. It didn’t matter what it was about.

I developed the thought further and realised I’m the same with quite a few authors – if I love them, it doesn’t matter what their new book is about, I want it.

I thought I’d make a list of authors that this is true for, so here goes:

  • Sophie Kinsella
  • Adele Parks
  • Jane Green
  • Marian Keyes
  • Cecelia Ahern
  • Rowan Coleman
  • Audrey Niffenegger
  • Lisa Jewell
  • Dorothy Koomson

I’m sure they’re some I’ve missed out, but that’s pretty much my favourite author list!

I think I want a Kindle. There’s an advert at the tube station I go to in the mornings, and I keep looking at it… Anyone would think they put it there on purpose as Christmas is coming up…

I’d always been put off them, because I like books. I like holding them, reading them, turning pages etc.

But, I’ve just found a huge reason for wanting one – its size. I’ve got a few books on my TBR list that I’m desperate to read, but I’m put off because they’re so big and heavy to carry round (and I always have the book I’m reading in my bag). Although, if I did have a Kindle, I’d have to re-buy those books. I’d have more chance of reading them though.

Does anyone else have one? What do you think of them?

I’ve just had a quick look on Amazon and stumbled upon Jane Green’s Straight Talking. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite book ever, but it moved me, and actually changed my life – improved my life. I loved it. BUT Amazon reviewers didn’t as much. Out of 55 comments, 13 gave it one star, 3 gave it two stars and 5 three. What is wrong with these people??? I’m going to have to add a review of my own! *giggles to self* Well, actually, I’m going to have to re-read it, then add a review. Woo hoo – I’ve got an excuse to re-read a novel I love. Love it!

Assignment Four – DONE!

I know, it’s hard to believe isn’t it, but it’s true. Assignment Four is ready to go. The only reason it’s not been sent is that I want it to be sent from my Hotmail account, and of course we can’t access Hotmail from work. As soon as I get home I’ll zap it off. Woop!

You know I’d so love to just post that as a blog – it’s so much better than anything else I’ll have to write – but you know me and my rambling – I’m going to carry on and on and on.

I’m half way through writing a review of Rowan Coleman’s The Happy Home for Broken Hearts. I find book reviews so hard to do. Last time I said that in a blog I said I’d start doing more to get better at them. I didn’t. In fact, I’ve not done one since April, maybe March. That’s really bad when you consider I’m taking part in a Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge (see sidebar) where I’m supposed to review the books I read. I’ve a list of four I need to do for that 😦

Ages ago I started a list of all the books I’ve read since being an adult. I lost that when one of our work computers crashed. Last week I started writing it again. Taking my favourite chick lit authors only, I’ve got to between 38 -44 (I can’t for the life of me remember if I’ve read those 6 or not – I recognise them, but maybe from the cover only?). The list was round about 100 when I lost it, so I’ve a long way to go.

I took part in a survey to find the top 10 chick lit novels of all time last week. It was hard to pin down my favourite 5, but I managed it. They are:

  • Straight Talking by Jane Green
  • Angels by Marian Keyes
  • Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella
  • PS I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
  • Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern

Ah, reading that list back makes me want to read them all again. 🙂

My Thursday Rambling

It’s Thursday and for the second week running, I’ve started my FictionFriday piece before Friday. I don’t know what the world is coming to.

I started writing it as Kate – the MC from one of my novels, the character from my last few FictionFriday pieces. But, I had to stop writing from her POV because it sounded like it might be personal. It wasn’t, but I imagine some people reading it could have taken it to be. That’s the pain writing from a POV of a character that’s in the same situation as me. I know that’s a little cryptic, but I’m afraid it’s going to stay that way.

So, I took the same idea and swapped over to using Dan as the character. Dan’s the MMC from the novel – Kate’s best friend. However I’m a bit stuck as to who the girl he’s with should be. There’s an exact place in the novel I want this story to fit in. Although I could never use this in the book (it’s 1st person from Kate’s POV), now I’ve got this idea in my head I NEED to write it. But I don’t know if the girl should be the one that turns into his girlfriend, or just a random girl.

Oh yeah, this piece isn’t going to be a complete story, it’s going to have to be something taken out of something bigger (that probably won’t be written), so sorry in advance. Actually I might be able to make it a self-contained story.

I read about 10k of ‘Holiday’ last week. I quite like it. I want to keep writing it, but think I need to put the bits together before I start on it. That’s why I’m loving these Fiction Friday pieces, little glimpses into Kate and Dan’s lives without getting into the novel.

I entered a ‘competition’ to ‘win’ a ticket to Rowan Coleman’s book launch party for The Happy Home for Broken Hearts (which I will review soon, it’s sooooo good). You have to write a short review of your favourite book of hers, then she’ll pick the 40 (yes 40) she likes and they get to go to the party. At the moment there’s only three reviews, so I’m totally going. I may have to warn my friends they won’t see me much this month, I’ll be at loads of author events. Woop!

Before I started writing, there was so much I wanted to say, now I’m here I can’t think of another thing. As soon as I press ‘Publish’ I’ll remember at least one. How annoying.

Ok, got some things…

I started Jane Green’s Girl Friday yesterday – I’m already on p124. I did read A LOT yesterday somehow. Oh yeah, it was raining on my lunch break so I sat in the canteen and read. It’s really good, but I’m having a bit of a problem settling into it being in the present tense. This happens quite often when I read a book that’s past, then straight away swap to one that’s present. I can’t really pinpoint why, but something in my mind just doesn’t like the swap over.

Other than that, I’m loving it – as I totally expected to with a Jane Green novel. She’s definitely one of my favourite authors. Straight Talking is possibly my favourite novel of all time. Oh, after The Time Traveller’s Wife and Twlight (I’m still freaked out a vampire/teen book is in the top 2). I guess it’s possibly my favourite Chick Lit book ever.

Speaking of which, I read something on Simon & Schuster’s Facebook page recommending a survey to find the top 10 Chick Lit novels of the last decade. It’s run by Chick Lit Central on Facebook…. Actually, I’ve just looked and it’s closed. Damn, I didn’t give my opinion. To take part you had to list your top 5 chick lit novels. I couldn’t think of my top 5. I got top three – Straight Talking by Jane Green, Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella and Angels by Marian Keyes. But 2 more? Ooh, that’s hard. So I didn’t add any, and now I’ve missed my chance  *stamps off in a mood*

A few weeks ago one of our computers at work crashed and lost everything that was on the desktops. Yes I had loads of stuff. I had thought that it was probably stuff I’ve emailed myself anyway, but I’m now not so sure.

I’m 100% sure I’ve lost my list of books I’ve read. I was compiling a list of all the books I can remember reading as an adult – just for my own amusement. I was up to 90 odd. And have lost it. I am so annoyed with myself for not saving it somewhere else too.

I think, although I’m not sure, I’ve lost a load of research I did on Italy. Damn.

This should teach me a lesson. I need to buy an external hard drive to save all my stuff on. I know you can get them online and stuff, but I just want one. However I do it, I should do it soon, every 3 days I get a reminder pop up telling me to do it. I’ll be so annoyed at myself if I lose everything and haven’t backed it up. Just another thing for the ‘To be done’ list!

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!

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!