Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Instantly NOT Want to Read a Book

This week's topic is an interesting counterpart to last week's list of things that automatically make me want to read a book... It would be tempting simply to invert those notions - what would turn me off a book? Unconvincing characters, inauthentic relationships etc... and yes that would be true. But a little bit of a cheat perhaps! That said, my wife came home from work yesterday with conjunctivitis which she has merrily shared, so my vision is a little blurred right now... tonight, I am not averse to the concept of a short cut! My other issue is that I do read widely and whilst I will offer some of the themes and tropes that may discourage me from reading a book, none of these will necessarily stop me from reading it. They may, however, make it an uphill job for the author to grab my attention. I wonder what examples of these I can come up with that I did read...

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book

This is an interesting topic: I read so widely and eclectically (I think) that sometimes its hard to discern a pattern in my reading habits. And sometimes when I feel that there is a pattern, I consciously choose to read outside the pattern... But there are certainly some authors who draw me. So lets start there.

Top Ten Tuesday: Things Getting in the Way of Reading

According to Jana, this week's theme has been lovingly stolen from A Cocoon of Books during freebie week and invites us all to share those things that get in the way of our reading. I mean we would all love to read a little more, wouldn't we, but that thing called life does just have the habit of getting in the way!

Book Review: Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver

Whilst this is a shoe-in for all the literary prizes of the year - there is no doubting its profundity and energy, its anger and its literary mastery - I found it an incredibly challenging read, piling unrelenting misery upon misery on young Demon's shoulders, robbing him of every joy or success or moment of peace, with only the incredible power of the narrative voice to stave off the bleakness.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Recommend to Others the Most

I'm not the sort of person to recommend books to other people. Of course not. *Ahem! Ok, of course I do. It is part of my DNA! I have been known, when browsing Waterstones and overhearing shop assistants offering up a book recommendation, to feel obliged to butt in and offer a different one. My blog is broadly speaking just a list of book recommendations. I have had long conversations with colleagues that never go far beyond "Have you read...? And you haven't read...? You should read..." It is, to be fair, pretty much part and parcel of my job as an English teacher, though - and that's my excuse!

Top Ten Tuesday: The First 10 Books I Randomly Grabbed from My Shelf

I am going to rely on the computer to select the ten books for this list, taking out all the physical and human limitations on randomness - the fact that I would be least likely to pick books from low shelves because my knees ache.... I did show my class the other week my Calibre library of ebooks and they estimated how many I had. "Twenty, sir?" "Thirty-five sir?" They seemed flabbergasted - as if they could not believe so many books could exist - when I scrolled to the bottom to show the 3,006th book! Not all read, obviously. A lot of classics. A vast and overwhelming TBR in digital form! Let's see what I thought of this random selection, and whether I remember why I bought it... And why is this strangely nerve wracking?

Book Review: The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells

A genuinely fun set of science fiction reads, featuring convincing world building and very capable plotting is elevated by a unique and compelling narrative voice in our favourite SecUnit: dangerous, compassionate, distant, a little obsessive and more than a touch neurodivergent.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Audiobook Narrators

I do love a good audiobook! Half an hour commuting to work each way five days a week; half an hour running three times a week; one or two longer runs at the weekend; whilst cooking, along in the kitchen... I will often be found listening to an audiobook. Quite often, more of my reading is audiobook than traditional print or e-book... Anyway, let's turn to my favourite narrators. There are some who inhabit the characters and narratives so well that, even when I return to the print version, I am still hearing it in their voice inside my head!

Top Ten Tuesday: Non-book Freebie

This week’s topic delves out of the bookish realm and is described by Jana as a chance to Take this time to let your readers get to know you a little! But the thing is, when you know what a person reads and enjoys, the sort of worlds and characters that inhabit their imagination and give them solace, when you know when a person seeks comfort in their reading and when they seek to be challenged, you already know so much about that other person! Yes, I am the sort of person who, when invited into someone’s house, is instantly glancing around for bookshelves; I am the sort of person who on a crowded train chooses who I sit next by their reading matter…!

Book Review: Children of Paradise, Camilla Grudova

This is an extraordinary and very strange and elegiacal novel, a nightmarish phantasm of a read: it celebrates classic cinema and its creativity and originality; it lambasts the homogenised sanitised experience of modern cinema; it is cruelly loving of its characters and almost lyrical in its palpable sense of decay. This was unlike anything that I have read in a while...

Top Ten Tuesday:Titles with Animals In Them and/or Covers with Animals On Them

This week's theme comes courtesy of Rachel @ Sunny Side who is obviously a girl after my daughter's heart who loves animals! In fact, my daughter has an avowed ambition to live in the wild in order to look after the wild animals - taking inspiration from Katya Balen's wonderful October October, perhaps. But only if there is wifi. In the wild.

Book Review: The Eternal Return of Clara Hart, Louise Finch

A startling time loop novel: beneath the horror of Spence reliving the same day over and over, a day clouded in layers of pain and tragedy, is a surprisingly powerful message about toxic masculinity and banter. A fantastic inclusion for the YOTO Carnegie Medal.

Book Review: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin

A thoroughly entertaining and engaging tale of friendship which, whilst I enjoyed the reading experience, does not quite justify the social media hype that it has received.

Book Review: Birnam Wood, Eleanor Catton

Another wonderful gripping novel from Eleanor Catton. Populated with intriguing characters, powerful ideas and incredibly long sentences, this novel is a little like a tapestry: it draws threads from Shakespeare, thrillers, climate change, politics and weaves them together to make something new and unsettling.

Top Ten Tuesday:  Indie/Self-Published Books

This week's themes comes courtesy of submitted by Nicole @ BookWyrm Knits and is a celebration of those pioneers of literature, the self-published and independently published authors. In the world we live in, the access to blogs and to self-publishing opportunities and small independent houses means that the range of books and publishing has blossomed without the influence of the Big Five publishers. Without self-publishing, we might have never had the whimsy of Beatrix Potter or of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for People Who Liked Tana French

This week's theme poses its own challenge. I love the idea of recommending books similar to a favourite author, but which author to focus on? Do I pick an author I find comforting and warm, or an author I find challenging? Do I find an adult author or young adult? Do I focus on classics or on modern writers? I want to pick my favourite author and rave about them... but again I have so many favourites...

Book Review: The Twist of a Knife, Anthony Horowitz

Another thoroughly enjoyable criminal romp for Anthony Horowitz and the enigmatic Daniel Hawthorne, uncovering the murderer of a vicious theatre critic before Horowitz is re-arrested for the crime.

Book Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Grady Hendrix

A fun vampire novel whose setting was one of its strongest features, divided between middle class white suburbs and poor black communities; it built tension well in the first half but revelled a little too much in visceral body horror to the point where it became inadvertently funny.

Book Review: Stone Blind, Natalie Haynes

A highly entertaining and enjoyable read retelling Medusa's story, told with Haynes' trademark wit, erudition and caustic humour - although I wonder whether I come away from the book having learned anything new...

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Spring 2023 To-Read List

As I have said on this blog before, I don't really do to be read lists. Whilst I may intend to tackle a certain set of books, I am more than happy to pick up this other one that caught my eye in Waterstones or the library, or that one that I began and put down six months ago, or this book that a friend recommneded, or that one which is all over social media, or - let's face it - sometimes this random one which I opened on my kindle by mistake! But this time of year coincides with the release of the Women's Prize for Fiction and I do try to read along with that longlist each year - to varying degrees of success - and so this week I offer you that longlist which I hope to have read some or most of before the 14th June when the winner is announced.

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People I’d Like To Meet

This is a nice whimsical topic: the bookish people I'd love to meet... but there are so many of them! Authors we could have to a dinner party, or meet at a book festival; characters who might be able to step from the page like Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, bloggers and reviewers... Let's think...

Top Ten Tuesday: Genre Freebie

This time of year is also the time when I indulge in these genres - just before we start on the tradmill of the Women's Prize for Fiction and the Booker longlists and the more self-consciously literary offerings. Do I see or recognise the distinction between genre and literary fiction...? I'm not sure that I do at all to be honest. Isn't it all just a marketing tool? All I recognise really is the ability of books to transport and entertain and challenge me in some way. Anyway, let's pick... crime as a genre for the purpose of this list after a somewhat lengthy preamble. And I offer to you my ten favourite crime books... prepare for murder, deception and violence.

Book Review: Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

My first Austen for an age - and I'm not sure I ever read this one - has revealed itself to be delightful: genuinely funny and literate with a well fleshed out protagonist and a surprisingly knowing and assured narrative voice - for a novel written when the author was but 28.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Heroines

This week's topic asks us to turn a spotlight on our favourite heroines. Whilst casting around for an angle - do I really want to trot out Jane Eyre, Jo Marsh or Lizzie Bennett again? - I was distracted by reading my daughter her bedtime story. And whilst Mesdames Eyre, Marsh and Bennett would all fit the topic - or more kick ass heroines like Lisbeth Salander, Arya Stark or The Priory of the Orange Tree's Ead or Tané - the power of literature to inspire young minds is so powerful that I thought I would focus on inspiring female heroines in the books she has been reading because there are many.

Book Review: A Day of Fallen Night, Samantha Shannon

A fantastic romp through a richly imagined world filled with warrior mages, queens and empresses, dragons and knights, Shannon's characters are as fleshed out and convincing as the apocalypse that is visited on their world.