Tag Archive | Jeff Abbott

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!

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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!

Old Book, New Book and Still No Writing

I finished Stephen King’s On Writing last week, and have now started reading another book.

On Writing: what can I say? I loved it, I learnt loads, and it really really made me want to write more. When I say more, I couldn’t really be writing any less at the moment so maybe that should say ‘it really made me want to write.’ Honestly when he was talking about writing, I was getting really excited about it myself.

I just don’t know what my problem is. I really want to, but there’s just something stopping me. To be honest over the last few days it has honestly been time. Tonight is my first night at home since last Thursday (after being ‘stranded’ in hotels earlier in the week because of a power cable problem causing no electricity in the flat, and a very busy social life) so when I got in tonight (an hour early thanks to a site visit finishing early) I had domestic stuff to do. Sigh.

My plan to try to do some writing during my lunch hour is being wrecked at the moment by being so busy at work. Yesterday I stopped just to get a sandwich from the canteen and to write a really quick blog. Maybe 15 mins max. Hopefully I’ve cleared enough stuff to enable me to have a lunch break again, and get into the habit of writing then.

I’m going to try really hard to do some tomorrow night. I’m not going out, so should be able to do some. It’s Fiction Friday the day after, so I can do that piece. Maybe something else.

That went a bit off topic of On Writing didn’t it. I’d love to be able to share half of what he said in it, but I’d much rather suggest you go read it if you haven’t. My step mum loved it and she’s not a writer, so even if you’re not a writer I’d suggest you go read it. If you do want to read about anything in it, I couldn’t help but blogging about a few things a week or so ago, so take a look at this.

As I said earlier, I’m now reading another book. This is really exciting as it’s the first book for my A to Z challenge and for my Mystery and Suspense Challenge. Jeff Abbott’s A Kiss Gone Bad (as you can see from my side bar). A for Abbott because I’m going to read the books in the order of the alphabet. So far (about page 20) I’m enjoying it. Which is good considering I’d never heard of it, and only really picked it up because it was cheap and fitted the model of Thriller & Suspense novels for my 2010  challenge. I’d heard of Fear and Panic (two of his other books), but from the names I thought they were horror so stayed well away. Obviously I can’t say how much I’ll like the rest of the book, but from the bit I’ve read, I’m glad I picked up this book!

I’m looking forward to this 26 book challenge for the A-Z challenge. But, I have a little problem. I’m reading A. Jeff Abbott. But, on my bedside table, I have another book. A book whose author’s surname also begins with A. Damn. It’s Cecelia Ahern’s The Book of Tomorrow. It’s been on my TBR list for ages and I finally got it for Christmas. I don’t want to wait until I’ve read 26 other books before I read it. So, I’ve decided, not all the books I read this year will be for the challenge. I’m hoping to read more than 26 anyway, so it doesn’t matter too much. I do like the fact I’m going to go A-A-B… and so on. I’m almost tempted to do a double A-Z challenge (2 As, 2 Bs, 2 Cs etc), but I’d like to do something other than read this year, and I don’t know if I’d be able to if I was trying to read 52 books. Not when we’re pretty much done with 1/12 of the year!

Right I’m off to watch a film. I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking I should be writing not watching a film. But I’m not going to. After all the housework I’ve done, and how busy I’ve been at work the last 2 weeks, I think I deserve a bit of R&R! Tomorrow. I promise.

Still Thinking

I’m still thinking about my goals for 2011, so I’m not going to post them quite yet. As I finished the blog about it pretty late last night, I’m pretty sure I’m going to allow myself a little more time.

I’ve just had lunch in our canteen. I was going to try to read while I ate, but a Jacket potato apparently requires two hands, and I hate bending books back (generally my books have a maximum of one or two creases down the spine when I’ve finished them – my current book Stephen King’s On Writing has none and I’m on page 261 of 367 – result!). Instead of reading, I listened in to someone’s conversation – for writing purposes of course (!). On of the ladies (who I know is a big reader like me) was saying how she’ has just started a ‘fun’ way of getting through her to be read books. The first book she’s reading is by an author whose sirname beginning with A. Then she’ll go to B, then C etc. until she gets to Z. If there are more than one with any letter she’s going to read just one on the first time round, then go again.

How much do I love that idea. I’ll tell you how much. I’m going to set myself an A-Z challenge this year. 26 books, each one by a different author beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. I guess it can totally tie in with the Mystery & Suspense Challenge (12 books in that genre). I’m really excited now I’ve had this idea. SO excited.

I’ve just realised I can’t be the only one who’s thought of this can I? No, I can’t. A quick google search led me to A to Z Challenge. Becky (the organiser) has set three ways of doing the challenge A- 26 Authors alphabetically B- 26 titles alphabetically and C – 52 books, authors & titles. I’m sticking with my 26 authors. When I’ve finished this, I’m going to sign up, then that’s me, up, up and away! How exciting.  

The only downside to this idea, is that I’ve been planning my next book for a couple of weeks now. And the author’s name doesn’t begin with A. WAIT. I’m being stupid. YES IT DOES. Abbott (as in Jeff Abbott) certainly begins with an A. OH YES!!!!

Right, I’ve got 5 or so minutes left of my lunch break. That’s just enough time to have a quick peak at the Fiction Friday prompt for this week and make a start. Result.

Weekend Round Up

It’s quite a nice feeling, having something to write about. Granted I’m only encouraged to write because the other half is watching some rubbish kick-em all film so I’m having to find something else to do (I did try, but when someone was shot in the first five minutes and he literally exploded I decided it wasn’t my cup of tea!), but still, I’m blogging, and I’ve got something to say – YAY!

First of all, after about two years of people saying I should read Stephen King’s On Writing, I finally picked it up at the end of last week (it was a Christmas present – you have to love Christmas!). To start with I thought it was a bit strange – it literally was just chapter after chapter of little memories from his childhood. Strange, but not bad, because each memory shaped where he is now. It’s now starting to get really good, him selling his first story, novel etc. I got tingles on the tube when I was reading about his first HUGE payment for Carrie.

One of the most interesting things I’ve read so far, is that he didn’t and still doesn’t like the character Carrie. So far, I’ve made every one of my MCs likeable. When I’ve posted stories on here from Holiday and people have said they don’t like Dan (because, lets face it, he is a male slut), I’ve been quite upset because I love him. He comes from my imagination therefore to me, almost feels like my baby (yeah, I don’t have kids!). I can’t imagine writing about someone I don’t like. Yet. Maybe in time that will come…?

Another thing I’m getting from it, is a really big want to write. I guess it started last week when I thought about doing, and then wrote something for Fiction Friday. Then I spent quite a bit of time reading On Writing over the weekend, and since then I’ve got a craving to get my laptop and write. I don’t know why I’ve not done that. I guess I wouldn’t know what to work on, whether to carry on with my NaNo book, The Dating Project, or go back to Holiday. I guess there’s always Italian Infatuation that I could edit. Sigh.

I think I’m a little scared of The Dating Project, because I KNOW it needs editing a whole lot, and I don’t really want to. Not that I need to, what I really need to do is finish it. But then I really need to finish Holiday too. And think of a better name for it.

Because starting to write one of them again feels like such a big leap, I think I might do a few smaller things first. I might work on a piece for Fiction Friday, and maybe use a few daily prompts to get me back into writing.

Over the Christmas holiday I bought a couple of Jeff Abbott books. I didn’t WANT to buy two, but my boyfriend was sick of waiting for me to decide which one I wanted that he said he’d buy them both (result!). I was undecided because they were in the same series, but I couldn’t work out which came first (they said they were published in the same year – they lied). Anyway, point of this (other than I have a wonderful boyfriend) is that I’ve got my first book to read for this year’s Mystery & Suspense Challenge. A Kiss Gone Bad. I’m looking forward to it.

Right, I’m going to go and look at Fiction Friday now… Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever done it before Thursday!