Books

Amazon Vine

What is Amazon Vine™?

Amazon Vine™ is a programme that enables a select group of Amazon customers to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make educated purchase decisions. Customers are invited to become Amazon Vine™ Voices based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews. Amazon provides Amazon Vine™ members with free copies of products that have been submitted to the program by vendors. Amazon does not influence the opinions of Amazon Vine™ members, nor do we modify or edit their reviews.

I am lucky enough to be a member of Amazon Vine, and the books marked with a (V) on my book list found at the top of the page, tell you which books I have read under this programme.

I have had some non fiction books as well; mainly reference type, Christmas stocking filler type books – these are not up on my ‘Read’ lists but can be found under my profile on the Amazon site.

Today is Amazon Vine day – and is the day when the whole list from the current and previous newsletters comes out which should mean there is a slightly bigger selection to choose from. The newsletter last week was a small selection and there was nothing there that grabbed me so let us see what today brings. Until 2000……..

Books

Booking Through Thursday

If you’re not enjoying a book, will you stop mid-way? Or do you push through to the end? What makes you decide to stop?

Short answer is yes, sometimes and all sorts of things!

Long answer is sometimes yes I do persevere because I feel cheated especially when I have bought the book and the first couple of pages I would have read in the bookshop seemed so promising. An example of this was The Keep by Jennifer Egan – I pushed through but really wish I hadn’t.

Then I did stop reading Burley Cross Post Box Theft by Nicola Barker. I tried and tried but it really did nothing for me and I had to admit defeat – I was not enjoying the book and reading to me should be pure enjoyment even if a little challenging not pure torture. Ironically I got lambasted for not completing it because it was given to me free and therefore someone suggested that I should have finished it and I did not know what I was missing, this made me even less likely to pick the book back up and try again.

Why stop, normally because the characters are weak and do not jump off the page into my imagination or the writing is just bad and makes no sense to the plotline. It can be anything and differs from book to book.

Books

The Crimson Rooms – Katharine McMahon

This is the story of Evelyn Gifford who has begun to forge a career in law. Nothing strange about this perhaps, but it is 1924. The country is still suffering from the effects of the Great War and women are not highly regarded in any profession despite the ministrations of the suffragettes.  However, Evelyn would not be in the position she is now if it was not for that war; taking her brother.

The book deals with two legal cases that of Stephen Wheeler arrested for the murder of his wife Stella less than a month into their marriage. Everything points to him having committed the crime but Evelyn and her male superiors at Breen and Balcombe have difficulty in getting the truth from Wheeler – who is he protecting and why?

The second case was common for the time and dealt with a mother trying to get her children back from the home, where in financial desperation Lech Marchant left them for their own good. Not understanding the law, Leah thinks she can claim them back at any time. It is this action which introduces her to Evelyn. A common case for female advocates to be assigned during their early rise in the law. However Leah trusts only Breen and perhaps she is correct to do so when Evelyn lets heart rule and puts the possibility of getting the children back in jeopardy.

Katharine McMahon has cleverly weaved all of this amongst Evelyn’s family life. The private and professional sides of Evelyn Gifford become confused and then perhaps help in discovering the truth to help the cases she is working on. In the process Evelyn discovers much more about herself.

Evelyn’s brother James was held in high regard by his family. McMahon makes emphasis on the fact that all sons were, and that they were the ones who were going to carry family name, tradition and honour into the workplace for many years to come. The Great War brought a stop to many families pursuing such an option. Now women were gaining respect as people in their own right and perhaps they instead of marrying a nice chap with good prospects and settling down to married life, babies’ et al. They could perhaps carry on family tradition into the workplace.

Evelyn’s picture of her brother is shattered piece by piece when Meredith and a young boy, Edmund turn up at the house with more than intimate knowledge of James. Life changes beyond all doubt as Evelyn discovers love of many different kinds, brought by Meredith into the whole household’s life. Evelyn’s mother denying any wrongdoing by her favourite and only son despite knowing something Evelyn does not. Evelyn’s grandmother suddenly finds someone in the present to talk about ands share the past with. And Prudence, her aunt who has set ideas and ways on how everyone should behave both young and old even finds herself warming to these new arrivals.

There is much that could be said about this wonderful novel. The characters all have their place, the wild eccentricities of Evelyn’s family as well as Wolfe the partner of Breen at Breen and Balcombe. Even Miss Drake, the secretary who believes what women have their place in society and that place is not as a legal advocate. Prejudice was to be found everywhere, McMahon handles this with skill and clarity for us as readers, actually to feel the anger the hurt and the determination by Evelyn.

Colour is throughout the novel. The portrayal of Evelyn’s home is one of bleakness, all shades of grey handled and described so effectively, that whenever Evelyn arrives home you can see picture everything so clearly grey. The arrival of Meredith brings colour to the house in more than her presence. Even in her descriptions of her dresses are there to show the stark contrast between her and Evelyn. The murder scene is described in glorious colour, as is the thoughts of the war and the image of the trenches, the mud and the wounds on innocent men.
A thrilling read, which kept the page turning as its atmosphere was deep and interesting as the story pitched you from murder scene to dinner table, to walking through Hyde Park. I would highly recommend this book as it has so much to offer; a love story, a war story, a legal history and a story of dreams, emotions, the future and discovery.

I have discovered an author who I have not read before and now I am off to discover her other books as well.

Books · Witterings

Consuming Books

I have been away for a few days and I have consumed books – along with some very good food, but now is not the time for that.

Reviews to follow soon on 3 books –  The Crimson Rooms, Rules and 204 Rosewood Avenue.

I am now reading Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson and have got into it so maybe that review will not be far behind as well.

I have also been stitching as well, so an update of that as well.

Cross Stitch

Nice Post day!

Yesterday was a nice post day – why? Well some charts I had ordered from The Silver Needle arrived! What made it even more nice, well they have taken less than a week to arrive that is from USA to UK and I always love opening parcels for them especially when I got it all at a bargain price! Subscribe to their newsletter and you can also get some items at bargain prices.

This is what I have got, as you can see The Silver Needle wrap everything in lovely paper, and always stick in a free chart and some other goodies, I have had a pen in the past, or some sweeties. This time it was some little jelly beans! How sweet. Excuse the pun.

I would like to stitch them all together and the full picture of them thanks to Lizzie Kate can be found here. However I am going to be good and not start them until I have finished all the other stuff I have on the go – I promise.

Books

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley

This is a new author for me and I am glad I have discovered Flavia de Luce! My review can be found here at the Amazon website.

There is so many layers to this book, that I feel I could have written lots about it. I try though to keep it as short as I can, giving potential readers an idea about the book and how it made me feel without just regurgitating exactly what happens in the book. Though I know I have done this in the past and will probably do it again.

I have also discovered Flavia’s own website where you can read more about her and her love for poisons but also the next book, which I endeavour to seek out. Flavia is going to go far and I hope that we can all go with her.

There is just something about an 11-year-old with a passion for poison that makes me chuckle, especially when it is them telling the story.  Continue reading “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley”

Books · Witterings

Booking Through Thursday

1. Favourite childhood book?

Anything by Enid Blyton probably or Roald Dahl.

2. What are you reading right now?

Alan Bradley – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

None.

4. Bad book habit?

Buying too many!

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Nothing, last book though was Nicky Pellegrino – Summer at the Villa Rosa

6. Do you have an e-reader?

No

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

I prefer one at a time, though I sometimes have two on the go because one of them is a bit more of a challenge to read.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

Not so far.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)

Nicola Barker – Burley Cross Post Box Theft. I did not even get past page 20!

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?

Gervase Phinn – Road to the Dales

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

Probably about 4 times a year, or sometimes have something on the go as well as other books I love to read.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

I should say anything apart from Fantasy and Science Fiction.

13. Can you read on the bus?

No – too nauseous.

14. Favorite place to read?

Bed or sofa.

15. What is your policy on book lending?

Do not like to, as I have lent in the past and never got back! Dubious now about lending any books out.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

Never!

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Last time I did this was at School and College.

18.  Not even with text books?

Nope!

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

English

20. What makes you love a book?

How it makes me feel whilst reading it and afterwards. Something that lasts forever and you can remember long afterwards and would highly recommend to anyone. Even the cover, shallow that is.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

If it kept me reading and made me think or laugh.

22. Favorite genre?

Too difficult!

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)

History.

Favorite biography?

Gervase Phinn – Road to the Dales. It was the last one I read, so at the moment it is my favourite. However I would recommend Chris Evans – It’s Not What You Think – excellent!

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?

Yes.

26. Favorite cookbook?

Anything by Nigella.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?

Kathryn Stockett – The Help

28. Favorite reading snack?

Tea and Biscuits, preferably Chocolate ones.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

Cannot think of one.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?

50/50 probably.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

I am not keen, because I have had other people criticise me for not liking a book. Reading and books is a personal thing and some people should realise this. However, it has not put me off.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?

Latin. (Which is not foreign but foreign to me.)

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?

Not sure.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?

Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall. Mainly because of the size of it.

35. Favorite Poet?

W H Auden, Shakespeare, T S Eliot to name a few.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

About 3.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?

Occasionally.

38. Favorite fictional character?

Miss Marple.

39. Favorite fictional villain?

??

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?

Anything really from my to be read pile.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.

Couple of years, whilst at university.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.

Wuthering Heights.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

Other people’s conversation.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?

Rebecca.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?

Any of the Harry Potter films (though the films are still good).

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?

£100

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?

Not often.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?

If I dread having to pick it up and read it. Also if it does nothing, just becomes a chore.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?

In theory yes.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?

Both really, I would love to keep them all but I have not got the space, and realistically I have to ask myself whether I would read them again – the answer is probably no.

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall.

52. Name a book that made you angry.

??

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?

Deanna Raybourn – Silent in the Grave.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger.

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?

Anything by Maureen Lee.

Answer yours at Booking Through Thursdays.