Monday 31 January 2011

The Tygrine Cat On The Run by Inbali Iserles

The Cat is Back!
review by Maryom

Mati, the Tygrine Cat, is back in another exciting adventure.
A fearsome danger has come to Cressida Lock and the only way for the Cressida cats to stay alive is to run away!

The Suzerain, ruler of the Sa Mau cats, having failed in his attempts with an assassin from the mortal world, decides to raise one from Fianey, the spirit half-dream world of cats. Three lost cat souls are morphed together and sent to hunt Mati down. To defeat them Mati must venture further in to Fianey than he has before, visiting the three realms that exist there - Harakar, the chaos that existed before Te Bubas, The First Cat, walked the Earth - Sienta, the limitless desert where she was born and the meadows of Ra'ha where all cats live on in memory.

The Tygrine Cat On The Run is a wonderful, enthralling story that takes the reader on an amazing adventure - both by foot and ship through this world and through the cat spirit world. It's full of action and excitement but there are tender, heart-rending moments too - I suspect a lot of readers won't reach the end dry-eyed. Thoroughly recommended whether your children are cat lovers or not.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher -
Walker books
Genre -
children's fantasy adventure. 9+

Buy The Tygrine Cat: On the Run from Amazon

Sunday 30 January 2011

Author Interview - Inbali Iserles

Frequently on Twitter you can 'hear' chat going on about books between readers and bloggers. This can make you interested particularly if your views of books don't always coincide with theirs. "The Tygrine Cat" was being talked about in a positive light and so when we were offered the chance to review it we jumped at the chance. On this occasion Maryom agreed with all the 'chatter' after reading it and gave it 5 stars finding it an "absolutely brilliant" read.

You can read Maryom's review here

Our delight was even greater when Inbali also offered the chance for us to review The Tygrine Cat On the Run and Maryom's review of the sequel will be out very soon. Inbali has also found time in her timetable to grant us an author interview and we will be running a competition for a personalised book as well!

May I start by thanking you for taking time out to give us an author interview.

You keep degus, which are Chilean rodents sometimes called 'brush-tailed rats'. Can you tell us why degus rather than the more normal hamsters or guinea pigs?

The degus are charming pets. They are sociable, diurnal (much more fun than nocturnal rodents that sleep all day) and show admirable forbearance in the face of my singing. That said, it wasn’t as though I went out looking for them. They were left in a cardboard box at the RSPCA, where I was researching feral cats for The Tygrine Cat. No one wanted them because they didn’t know what they were! So I adopted the little blighters.

Do they need any special treatment or care?

Degus are naturally insulin-resistant and are highly prone to diabetes. As a result, they need to be kept on a strict diet, absent sugary treats such as raisons or cornflakes. In the early days of degu ownership, I could only obtain their food (something resembling bird seed) via my local vet, who would order it in from Germany (why Germany?). As degus have become a little more common on the pet scene, so products specifically aimed at them have been easier to find. Though they still lounge in a ferret hammock; eat from rat dishes; curl up on rabbit bedding…

Mati is a cat. Does this not reflect a conflict of loyalties with your degus?

It might, if I kept a cat in London. My dear old mog, Wilma, passed away just over a year ago at the grand old age of 22. She lived with my parents in Cambridge. Given that much of my adolescence was shared with this nurturing and generous-spirited feline, I consider that Wilma practically raised me.

With degus causing a conflict already, and the books reflecting a lack of appreciation for 'oolfs' (dogs) how do you feel about dogs?

I am surprisingly fond of dogs. The truth is I love all animals, and if I had more time, and travelled less, I would get a dog – they make wonderful companions. I don’t let these sympathies creep into the Tygrine Cat stories. The rules there are strict, the perspective feline: oolfs are smelly, aggressive and dangerous. I’m sure Wilma would have agreed.

All the cats in the books are feral, with the exception of one that previously owned a hind (person). Do you have special views on animal 'ownership'?

Jess the stray is the cat who owned, meaning that she was a housecat who co-habited with a human, granting him friendship in exchange for food and lodgings. Despite the disapproval of the Cressida Cats, who are ferals with a long tradition of independence, Jess is loyal to her “hind”. I wanted to show a relationship between human and cat. Cats are often thought to be selfish and insouciant but that is not always true. They are social animals – they forge real bonds, both between themselves and with humans. They don’t forget.

Your name obviously originates from outside the UK. Would you mind telling us a little about that?

I am originally from Jerusalem, and moved with my family to Cambridge when my father took a position at the university. My childhood summers were spent in Israel, which is where I became preoccupied with the plight of local street cats. The name “Inbali” comes from “inbalim”, or the ringing sound of bells. My surname is older, dating back to the Chief Rabbi of Krakow, a scholar called Moses Isserles, and his predecessors. Moses Isserles was my great grandfather with a large number of interceding “greats”. My strand of the family dropped one “s” from the surname following Polish independence, in order to make it sound more Polish.

The fact based world of lawyers, your day job, seems a long way from children's fiction. Is writing the realisation of a long held ambition or something that 'crept' up on you?

I loved creative writing as a child, filling exercise books with stories and poems, and continued to write in a secretive way into adulthood. It never occurred to me that I could write to be read – write for a “job”. The story came first. Quite by accident, leafing through an encyclopaedia of cat breeds, I started to ponder the idea of an ancient rivalry between two feline tribes…

Mati's ancestors come from ancient Nubia, now southern Egypt. Is Egypt a place you have visited or is in some way special for you?

I have visited Egypt and hope to return soon. I am intoxicated by that magical land of temples and treasures, set against the backdrop of desert and a winding sea of life. People often find the Ancient Egyptians remote, their practices arcane, yet I see there so much of human intellect, communication and learning. And I say that not only because they worshipped cats!

Perhaps this civilisation is sometimes viewed with circumspection due to its apparently morbid fascination with death. Yet for the Egyptians, at least those of wealth and status, the possibilities that followed the world of the flesh were profoundly compelling. Death was just the beginning.

Thank you once again Inbali and I look forward to reading Maryom's review of "The Tygrine Cat On the Run".

And Remember - watch out for the competition!

Wednesday 26 January 2011

The Pain Merchants by Janice Hardy

How Much Pain Could You Take?
review by Maryom

Nya and Tali live in a world where injuries and pain are 'healed' by specially trained Takers who take the hurt firstly into themselves and then dump it into stones made of the special element, pynvium. Tali's abilities gain her a place as an apprentice with the Healers' League, but Nya's talent is stranger and best kept hidden. There are increasing rumours, though, that something strange is happening at the League, that apprentices are going missing and then a shipwreck with innumerable casualties brings chaos but a chance for Nya to profit from her strange gift.

Telling the story through Nya's point of view, Janice Hardy has pulled off the trick of creating a totally believable alternative world. Nya is now reduced to living off scraps on the streets of war-battered Geveg but can still remember the better times, before the Duke's army invaded, when she and her family lived in comfort and her Grannyma was a respected Healer in the League. Even the little she has is at risk as Nya's talent becomes known and others seek to manipulate her for their own ends - she discovers that some people will do almost anything to help ease the pain of their loved ones, but that there's also others who want to profit from this.

We first join Nya as she is trying to escape from an outraged farmer and the pace and momentum of the plot are kept up throughout. The reader is alongside as strangers stalk her, as she bluffs her way into the League's headquarters and escapes over the roof tops!
An enthralling new fantasy adventure series for young teens - one I hope to read more of.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher -
Genre -
fantasy, adventure 11+

Buy The Healing Wars (1) - The Pain Merchants: Book One from Amazon

Monday 24 January 2011

Invisible by Frank Egerton

Dark Romance...
Review by The Mole

The genre of books can often be difficult to place but this one I found more difficult than most, in fact I suspect I think I may be guilty of creating a new genre.

I would say the 'story starts' but I'm not sure I would call it a story. It is presented in the main part as 'writing therapy' of Tom, the main character,in this book but includes extracts from Sarah's diary that would not occur in such therapy. Sarah's diary pre-dates the entries of Tom's that they are inter folded with. I found that this section of the book was a little confusing and lacked some form of clearer definition that the reader had moved from Tom's therapy to Sarah's diary.

Tom is undergoing a lot of emotional stress and the therapy, suggested by Mart, is to help him get a handle on this and get him settled again.

Tom has built up a chain of pubs themed around Charles Dickens's books and is financially secure but, as with all successful people, this puts a strain on his relationship with his partner, Jill, and we start the book as their relationship breaks up. Tom decides to sell the pub chain to try to save his relationship and ends up in a relationship Sarah.

I truly felt the passion that Tom feels and was 'in his shoes' for much of the book but at times wanted to whisper in his ear 'get out of this relationship'. While the love was there, and with love there comes sunshine and flowers, I also felt that there were storm clouds behind me throughout and hence I would call it a 'dark' romance.

If you are looking for a happy romantic novel then I would say look further. If you want a book that deals with REAL issues in relationships then look NO further!

Because I find it difficult to place it in a standard category then I would not know who to recommend it to. It can be difficult to follow at the beginning (new fonts or font styles would have greatly improved this) but it is worth sticking with. It tries to deal with real issues that are topical and have been for some time and while I still don't FULLY understand them, I do feel a little more enlightened and hopefully a little more tolerant - if tolerant is the word I'm looking for.

While I didn't 'enjoy' this book (I'm not sure the reader is meant to) I am pleased to have read it.

Publisher - Street Books
Genre - Adult's Dark Romance

Buy Invisible from Amazon

Friday 21 January 2011

Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus by Hazel Allen

Bree's Back!!
review by Maryom

Bree McCready is back for another non-stop action adventure accompanied by her friends, Honey and Sandy. This time Honey's younger sister, Mimi, steals her half of the half-heart locket and finds herself kidnapped and held ransom for Bree's magical book. Can Bree, Honey and Sandy battle their way through to Castle Zarcalat in time to save her? There are new friends, though, to help them along the way through the strange land divided by the Flame of Irenus - some say it brings peace and light, others say it brings death and destruction and the two sides have fought about it for many years. If they reach the Castle, the Flame must be extinguished before Mimi can be rescued.

Bree McCready and the Half heart locket was a superb fantasy adventure but I think this may be even better. There are more monsters and gory oversized insects and the most terrifying chase through collapsing tunnels that I've read since The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Genre - Children'sFantasy and Adventure 9+

Buy Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus from Amazon

Thursday 20 January 2011

Round the World Book Challenge

Rather oddly this grew out of the British Book Challenge being run at The Bookette's blog - that rather obviously is about reading books by British authors and I thought it might be a good idea to put together a similar genre mix from round the world.

Looking round our bookshelves, mainly at the TBR pile, I discovered

Canada - Jan Markley - Dead Frog On The Porch (children)
Sweden - Jan Guillou - The Birth of the Kingdom (historical fiction)
France - Fran├žoise Sagan - Engagements of the Heart
Nigeria - Ken Saro Wiwa - Lemona's Tale
Spain - Javier Cercas - The Speed of Light

which is a fairly good start

then saw someone talking about Arto Paasilinna - The year of the Hare - so one from Finland (and from the library)

I picked up Alice Walker's the Color Purple at Bookcrossing. I've never read this so should make a good one for USA

Gav Reads at My Favourite Books recommending Camilla Lackberg - Swedish crime writer

Nicky at Absolute Vanilla suggested Spud by John van der Ruit, from South Africa

Nayuleska at Nayu's Reading Corner is running a Manga Reading Challenge - so as I've never read ANY and after some advice from Nayuleska about where to start, I'm hoping to track some down to read.

I also intend to include Shopaholic attends un bebe - the French version of Shopaholic and baby which my elder daughter bought for me in Paris.

I'm still looking for ideas so if anyone has any offerings I'd be interested - preferably from different countries to those already covered.

Have discovered a blog holding an Argentinian reading challenge for which I've signed up Fortunately it has some suggestions of what to read.

At last have started reading my way round the world!

The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna - Finland
Please Look after Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin - Korea

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Darkside by Belinda Bauer

Killer on the loose!
review by Maryom

Blacklands was an absolutely stunning debut novel, it even won 2010 Crime Novel of The Year, so how was Belinda Bauer going to follow it? The answer is - with another stunning read!

We're back in the sleepy Exmoor village of Shipcott and this time there's a killer on the loose, picking on easy targets - the infirm and elderly- and leaving no trace behind him. Local policeman, Jonas Holly, is deeply shocked that such events could happen in a small community where everyone knows their neighbours and strangers stand out easily, but more so when the killer starts to taunt Jonas with his inability to prevent further deaths.
As the snow falls and blocks roads to the village, Shipcott becomes the site for a country-house type murder hunt with a limited cast of villagers, all known to Holly from childhood, so he's put out when the DCI brought in from far away Taunton doesn't ask for his help and actively keeps him out of the investigation. The tension gradually mounts as the killer remains at large yet trapped by the weather and villagers start to eye their neighbours suspiciously as no one knows where he may strike next.

As a reader, I sometimes feel that a second novel can be merely the first with some minor changes of plot and character. That's certainly not the case here. Darkside is totally different but just as stunning as Blacklands.

Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher -
Transworld Publishers
Genre -
adult, thriller

I've included this as one of the books of my British Book Challenge at The Bookette

Buy Darkside from Amazon

Monday 17 January 2011

Sing Sorrow Sorrow

Chilling Tales for a Winter's Evening
review by Maryom

A collection of tales from various authors edited by Gwen Davies. All drawing their inspiration from the darker side of folk tales.
I'm not normally a reader of horror stories but found myself irresistibly drawn into these. There's something to suit all tastes from the mildly spine tingling to the out-right horrific (I soon decided these weren't stories to prop up and eat over lunch)
Tales of house demons, hags, temptresses, disappearing children, a keepsake box of the blood-curdling mementoes....Some set now, some in the past and others in strange future worlds.

My favourite though had to be the darkly funny tale, The Pit by Jon Gower, of a once-human creature lurking in the coal pits of South Wales and almost starved into extinction by Margaret Thatcher's anti-union policies!
Read them now, while nights are still dark and the wind gusts down the chimney, maybe if you're brave enough dim the lighting for that real shiver-down-the-spine feeling.

Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher -
Seren Books
Genre -
adult fiction, horror, fantasy

I've included this as one of the books of my British Book Challenge at The Bookette

Sunday 16 January 2011

New Year - new hobbies Nordic Knitting by Martin Storey

Get Your Knitting Needles Ready!
review by Maryom

For the last of my New year - new hobbies slot I want to include one of my Christmas presents - Nordic Knits by Martin Storey.

It comprises 25 projects all with a Scandinavian feel, ranging from simple ones such as coasters to fair isle socks full of patterning and turned heels. It's not a book for the absolute beginner with no knitting experience, but for anyone with a basic knowledge it should give you the confidence to try something a like unusual. There's a simple instruction section on how to work with two colours in fair isle and intarsia, and lots of easier projects to try before attempting something harder such as a waistcoat or fair isle patterned hot-water bottle cover. If you're still not convinced about working with 2 colours, there are also lace and cable patterned items to make.

The emphasis is on small projects -scarves, hats, socks, mittens, cushions or placemats - with a couple of waistcoats and a simple shrug. All of them things to get your fingers itching to knit.

The only slight criticism I would make is that it would have been nice to have seen some of the patterns knitted up in different colourways - it can be difficult to envisage the result of changing background colour from, say, red to green.

I just need to find some free time now and get started with some knitting!

Publisher - Rowan
Genre - Adult's Non-Fiction

Rather oddly I can't find a link for this at Amazon but it can be bought direct from Rowan

Friday 14 January 2011

New Year - New Music? 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

New Year, New Music
Review by The Mole

Each year I find my musical tastes moving and changing very little. I listen to the same radio stations and am influenced by my daughters listening habits. As the new year starts perhaps it's time to explore more and see if there's something else out there for me? 

Maryom won this book through a "retweet" on twitter but frankly she's not a music person. When it arrived postie put his bag down and then remembered he had left it in the car because it is HEAVY. It is nearly 1000 pages in length with some pages featuring 2 tracks, some pages having contemporary photographs and much of it in full colour. When we opened it I enquired as to why? and I suspect it was 'because I could'. Well I had a brief glimpse and then our teenage daughter did. As I read more I became intrigued, amused, interested, nostalgic and generally fascinated. Our daughter has looked through and commented, excitedly, about some of the more recent content and then threatened to use the book as a weapon if "Mother doesn't ..... I'll hit her with this book!". Not the use I would recommend for this tome though.

The first thing was that my expectation of this book was that it would tell me what I should like in music and bury me in statistical data on the groups, singers, producers and writers.

Put your expectations to one side and try it. It starts with some brief explanation on the history of the 'single' and explains a few of the people involved in the compilation of this book. Robert Dimery is the 'general editor' and it does not only reflect his tastes.

It talks about the tracks and their role in the development of a musical style and what that style comes from and later becomes as well as explaining the importance of the song in the careers of artists and writers. Then index is by artist and lists the best 10,001 tracks, but where that track is in the top 1,001 then a page reference follows. I was a little disappointed to see Billy Joel has a fair few in the top 10,001 but not in the top 1,001 and the Ink Spots have only 1 in the 1,001 and it's a track I am not familiar with while all their 10,001 entries I can join in with.

Most importantly it is not written with bigotry but contains a degree of humour and gentle persuasion so go on YouTube and try a few then take a look around the web for wax, vinyl, CDs or downloads and try some new music in 2011.

Publisher Octopus Books
Genre Non-Fiction - all ages strong enough to lift it!

Buy 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die (1001 Must Before You Die) from Amazon

Thursday 13 January 2011

New Year - new hobbies Tender: Volume 1, A cook and his vegetable patch by Nigel Slater

Cookbook and Gardener's Handbook in one.
review by Maryom

So, was one of your New Year resolutions to eat a healthier diet? maybe eat less meat - whether for health or environmental reasons? to take more exercise? Put them all together and you get - digging your garden, growing your own veg and then eating it!

There are plenty of gardening books out there whether you're a beginner or an expert and plenty of cookery books to match but, in
Publish Post
Tender: volume 1, A cook and his vegetable patch, Nigel Slater brings the two together in a gardening book written from the cook's perspective. He covers the vegetables he grows in his London back- of - terrace garden from asparagus to turnips with basic sowing and growing information for each vegetable, suggestions on which varieties to grow for performance and taste, and plenty of recipes to use your hoped for glut; for example, there are a dozen recipes for courgettes and their grown-up relative, the accidental marrow, a dozen more for parsnips, eight for pumpkins and over two dozen ways to cook and eat potatoes. Slater is encouraging us throughout this book to stop considering veg as a mere supporting act to meat but to bring them forward into a starring role, though not all the recipes are totally vegetarian.

This definitely falls into the 'big, thick book' category at over 6oo pages filled with mouth-watering recipes and gorgeous photos, and there's a danger that it could be beautiful but unused. Find yourself a copy of Tender, read some of it and you'll soon find yourself wanting to share the delights of fresh-from-the-garden home grown veg.
I received my copy of Tender: volume1 for Christmas last year. There's now a second volume of Tender all about fruit - I have to put that on my wish-list ready for next Christmas!

Publisher - 4th Estate
Genre - Adult's Non-Fiction

Buy Tender: Volume I, A cook and his vegetable patch from Amazon

Wednesday 12 January 2011

New year - new hobbies Make your own soap by Joy James

Another little craft book gem from How2crafts
Make your own Soap by Joy James will have you inspired to try this ancient craft. It's the sort of project that appeals to the "Good Life" self-sufficiency freak in me - something that used to be made on every farm but that nowadays has become mainly a factory mass-produced item. The soaps that Joy James shows you how to make in this book are of the highly desirable, scented, flower-decorated, hand-made kind, that sadly cost so much when found at craft markets. There are 3 different 'recipes', all using the 'cold process' method and all can be safely made in your kitchen with some simple precautions. The making process is covered in detail with, very importantly, lots of illustrations of what to do and how it should look at each stage, and, just in case your first efforts didn't turn out brilliantly, a trouble shooting section.
How2crafts believe that craft making should be about sharing ideas, techniques and skills. With this in mind, they encourage readers to join in at the how2 website, upload photos of finished products and share their thoughts on the making process.

The book can be purchased directly from the website

New Year, New Boots? Julia Bradbury's Railway Walks

Enhanced walking
Review by The Mole

When Maryom reviewed this book she reviewed it as an armchair read, but as the days start to lengthen after the solstice it's time to start getting out and think about losing some of those Christmas kilos. As I have resolutions to try to improve my fitness in 2011 I thought I would review this book from the viewpoint of a practical walker.

One of the walks in the book is the Monsal Trail in Derbyshire, parts of which I know very well and walked as a child.

The books directions are brief but more than sufficient to find your way along these well marked trails and explain something of the geology that the railway builders encountered. It talks about the history of the railway construction but also of the history that immediately surrounds the line.

The book has six walks in along then length of Britain on disused railway lines (as the title implies) and while you can walk the trails without the book the inclusion of it in your pocket will explain much and entertain you along the way. Well worth taking along!

Publisher - Frances Lincoln
Genre - Adult's Non-Fiction

Buy Julia Bradbury's Railway Walks from Amazon

Monday 10 January 2011

New year - new hobbies Felt Biscuits by Ouissi Gresty

It's a time of year when people vow to try taking up a new hobby - and apparently it's National Hobby Month - so here's the first of a small number of craft book reviews to perhaps get you started on something new -

Felt Biscuits by Ouissi Gresty

Knitted and felted food has so far been a passion that's by-passed me a little but looking through this book has really tempted me to have a go. From felt, thread and wadding Ouissi Gresty has created real, melt in mouth looking biscuits but ones you won't actually want to eat. Guilt-free biscuits! - what could be better.

The actual size of the book may be small - about 17cm square, 80 pages - but contains all the information you need. Equipment, techniques, detailed instructions and accompanying photographs of all the stages, cutting out, surface decoration, sewing together, stuffing - everything is covered. You'll discover how to make your very own felted biscuits - a range including bourbons, shortcake, custard creams - with a felted 'tin' and even the tray that goes inside the tin!

The special thing about the How2Crafts series, though, is that, having made your items, you can post them to the How2 website, share your thoughts on the making process and maybe be lucky enough to have photos of your work included in later editions of the books. I might even submit one myself!

Publisher - How2crafts
Genre -
Adult's Non-Fiction - but easily within the ability of nimble-fingered teenagers and possibly younger children with some basic sewing experience

Felt Biscuits: A Full-colour, Step-by-step, Photographic Guide to Making Classic British Biscuits and a Biscuit Tin from Felt is available from Amazon or direct from the How2crafts website where an e-book version is also downloadable.

Friday 7 January 2011

Fitness for Life Manual by Matt Roberts

A New Year a New Gym?
Review by TheMole

We have all heard the statistics about gym membership - how so many people have it bought as a present or buy it to lose those pounds after Christmas and it is hardly used. One of the principles of healthy exercise is to find something you enjoy and want to do, set yourself sensible achievable goals and go for it.

This book has proved very valuable to me as I embarked on a 'get fit' routine. It starts with introducing the setting of the goal you wish to achieve and then helps you explore ways to enjoy getting to fulfil that goal. It progresses through diet and then covers stretching before moving to exercise itself.

There is always a debate between resistance and aerobic (cardio) exercise as to which is better for the body and this book attempts to address that and has exercise routines based on both methods to suit the individual.

Many of the exercises are pictured in the home, albeit some with equipment specially purchased, but many needing no gym equipment. It covers all the common outdoor exercises such as walking, running and cycling - their benefits and programmes to get the best from your efforts. It covers more exotic fitness sports like skiing as well as things like swimming.

There are also case studies of people who have followed this advice and achieved their goals and these show that it can be achieved.

If you are thinking of going to a gym or just getting fit by your own exercise you will find this book beneficial in improving your efforts, avoiding injury and understanding why you are not progressing as you expected to.

There is a modern trend towards a 'green gym' that is to get outside and get fit and this book will help even if you only plan to start gardening more actively. It will help to prevent and alleviate the post-exercise pains and strains that affect everyone and put so many people off.

I recommend this everyone whose new year resolutions include 'getting fitter'!

Publisher - Dorling Kindersley
Genre -
Adult's Non-Fiction

Buy Fitness for Life Manual from Amazon

The Bookette British Books Challenge

I saw this reading challenge over at The Bookette's blog and thinking to myself "Oh, that'll be easy" decided to sign up for it. Following a brief Twitter conversation, I thought I'd actually make it harder and try to read something from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So, the starter list is as follows

England - Sophie Kinsella - I have Remember Me and Twenties Girl both sitting on the TBR pile so will choose at least one of them
Malorie Blackman - Noughts and Crosses
Alan Garner - Weirdstone of Brisingamen - a 50th anniversary edition was brought out in 2010, but I still have a really old battered copy though not a first edition!

Scotland - Alexander McCall Smith - Friends, Lovers and chocolate
Christopher Brookmyre - A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil
Hazel Allan - bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus

Wales - Sing Sorrow Sorrow - a collection of horror stories from Seren Books
Belinda Bauer - Darkside

Northern Ireland - Seamus Heaney - Beowulf

That gives me 8 to be starting with, I'm also hoping in the course of the year to be able to track down the sequel to Gillian Phillip's Firebrand, Keren David's new book, Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery and some more Mabinogion Stories from Seren Press.
I need to find more suggestions for N Ireland and Wales, so if anyone has suggestions please leave a comment

Listing them here as I read and review:

Jan 17 - Sing Sorrow Sorrow
Jan 19 - Darkside by Belinda Bauer
Jan 21 - Bree McCready and the Flame of Irenus by Hazel Allen

Feb 11 - The Tygrine Cat by Inbali Iserles
Feb 14 - The Accidental Proposal by Matt Dunn
Fen 21 - Belle's Song by K M Grant

Mar 2  - Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith

Thursday 6 January 2011

The Mole's Reading Resolutions for 2011

I have not been reading enough lately and am missing it a lot! I have a stack to read and I resolve to read more in 2011.

Ok that's a simple resolution but more specifically I will also join in the Anne McCaffrey Reading Challenge for 2011 reading at LEAST  Freedom's Ransom and Dragon Harper. I am new to McCaffrey so have chosen 2 I can easily put my hand on.

I shall read more non fiction. I have a few in my 'to be read' pile already and I keep wanting to pick them up....

I shall try to be more open minded about reading ebooks. We have a few and now the Derbyshire Library Service is offering them for download for free!

Let's see how that goes and hopefully I will meet all my resolutions.

Update:-  Dragon Harper by Anne and Todd McCaffrey After reading Dragon Harper I visited goodreads and was pleased to find that I am not alone in my opinion of the book.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Maryom's resolutions

My book resolutions for the year include -
- finishing the book that's been sitting on my bed side table for far too long - Absolute War, Soviet Russia in the Second World War by Chris Bellamy, one of Pan Military Classics series and nothing like as dry and dull as it might sound - it just got left while I read some review books and never got picked up again.
- reading some of the stash of books that we've acquired either through Freecycle/Freegle or through Bookcrossing - I feel more guilty about the Bookcrossing ones as, after all, the idea is to read them and pass them on again.
- British Books Challenge at The Bookette*
- foreign reading challenge*

*going to blog about these in detail later

Tuesday 4 January 2011

New Year

New Year is the time for making plans and resolutions, the time when we all decide that this year we will do things differently - whether taking up a new hobby, getting fitter, living a healthier lifestyle or just trying to achieve a little more in our normal everyday life. So with this in mind we're planning on bringing you a series of posts to go with this theme of New Year, New You - a combination of book reviews and our reading plans and challenges for the year ahead.

Saturday 1 January 2011

Looking back over 2010... (TheMole's reflections)

I don't agree with looking back. Normally. People looking back miss what's in front of them. But sometimes it can be an education.  When we decided to do this I was sceptical but as I looked back at some of the titles I read during the year I thought that it could be fun.  My best book of 2010 was..... well I don't have ONE it would be unfair to say a children's book was better than a YA Fantasy or a Chic Lit compared to non-fiction. What I plan on doing is listing 10 books that have made an impression - a favourable impression - on me.

You have a tendency to favour the books you read last but hopefully that hasn't affected me in my choice.

So, in no particular order....

Shadow Bringer By David Calcutt.

I read other "thrillers" this year but this one REALLY had me believing the terror that our hero felt. I rarely find a book that I wouldn't advise as a bed time reader but this one, for it's target audience is definitely a no-no! Really good book.

When I was Joe/Almost True By Keren David

 Don't accuse me of cheating here.. I said 10 and I am including these as 1 as they join almost seamlessly. Read them in order and as 1. Brilliant story that touches many issues carefully and sensitively.

Firebrand By Gillian Philip

 This book is really something else when it comes to fantasy! We got chance to read and review it early and even got a quote on the cover of the first print run. It has gone to a second print run and now we are only on the back - but the story is still fantastic.

Mortlock by Jon Mayhew

Got chance to review  this book for Nayu's Reading Corner. It was much talked about at the time and I was not disappointed in the slightest when the chance came.

Bad Faith by Gillian Philip

I had already read - and thoroughly enjoyed - Crossing The Line so really looked forward to the chance to read this one. I was not disappointed. Very different to Firebrand or Crossing The Line, underlining Ms Philip's skill.

Wasted by Nicola Morgan

I have to admit that when Maryom explained a synopsis of the plot I was sceptical, but when I started reading I became totally absorbed in this brilliant story. I didn't toss a coin to decide whether to include it today!

A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis

Just when you think there are no new ideas about magical fantasies...  I found this story to be truly fun and different. Somehow it felt like 'technical' magic??? Please don't ask what that means but watch for the sequel.

Girl 16 Five Star Fiasco by Sue Limb

This story was another surprise. No magic, no fantasy, no world domination. Just the kind of things that modern teenagers may do - organising a dinner dance for charity. But there'll be tears before bedtime. Beautiful story that the modern teenager can identify with.

The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

I know I warned about the later books I have read being too fresh in my mind but I must include this one. It is a beautiful story and a roller coaster ride of emotions. Without giving anything away.. just read it. Please?

Lee on the Dark Side of the Moon by Keith Charters

And on a final note it would be morally wrong, at this happy time of year NOT to include the funniest book I have read in 2010. It will amuse both old and young alike and totally fails to address the important question:- If there is no noise in a vacuum then why does a vacuum cleaner make so much noise?

And on a totally final note.. I have read many crime thrillers this year and enjoyed them all - no exceptions - but not included them because I chose to limit myself to 10 books. To choose 1 of them I would probably have included them all so take a look through the reviews and consider every one of them my 11th.