Other Recommended books

My Favourite Books

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

My favourite book! A Fine Balance‘); ?> is an epic story, packed with Indian atmsophere. It is an amazing book, which is gripping all the way through. The complex plot combines with amazing characters to produce the most heart wrenching scenes I have ever read. Perfection in book form!

Blindness – Jose Saramago

Saramago’s writing style isn’t for everyone, but once you’ve got used to it you’ll be completely sucked in to this scary story of a global blindness epidemic. Blindness‘); ?> is fast paced and horrifying – it makes me want to move to the country and become self-sufficent!

Fingersmith – Sarah Waters

As many of you know, a good plot is what I value the most in a book – Fingersmith‘); ?> has the best plot I’ve ever found! The twists in this book are outstanding, but when combined with Gothic atmosphere the result is fantastic.

Ingenious Pain – Andrew Miller

Ingenious Pain ‘); ?>is a book which deserves much more recognition than it currently gets. The book focuses on a man who can’t feel any pain and deals with some interesting questions about the importance of suffering. As with all my favourites it has a great plot too!



Duncton Wood – William Horwood

Dunction Wood‘); ?> is a love story like no other. It has been a long time since I read this book, but the memories of those moles always brings a smile to my face. Fantastic adventure story!

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveller\’s Wife‘); ?> is the best romance book in existence! I don’t think I’ve cried more when reading a book.


His Dark Materials Trilogy – Phillip Pullman

His Dark Materials Trilogy‘); ?> is the most imaginative set of stories I’ve ever read. I loved the complex plot, the fast paced adventure and the theological debate.


The Clan of the Cave Bear – Jean Auel
The Clan of the Cave Bear ‘); ?> is the best historical fiction book I’ve ever read. It is the moving story of an orphaned girl who is rescued by a Neanderthal clan, ruled by traditions and taboos.  As well as having a fantastic plot this book also gives great insight for what life was like for early humans.

Z for Zachariah – Robert O’Brien
Z for Zachariah‘); ?> was my first dystopian novel and led to my love for this genre. I hesitate to recommend it now, as I’m not sure I’d enjoy it as much as I did then. I really must re-read it one day to see if I still love it, but I’m scared to ruin those special memories!

The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan
I love most of Amy Tan’s books, but I think The Bonesetter\’s Daughter‘); ?> is my favourite. I love the mother-daughter relationships in her books and the Chinese mythology makes this one even more special.

Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
I love Murakami’s inventiveness. I have enjoyed every one of his books so far, but I think Kafka on the Shore‘); ?> tops the list at the moment.

Out – Natsuo Kirino
Out‘); ?> is my favourite thriller. Not only does it have a fast paced, complex plot, but it also raises many interesting questions about the loyalty of friends.

Ghost Written – David Mitchell

Ghost Written‘); ?> is very different to anything else I’ve read. David Mitchell is another author that has never disappointed me. I love his blend of the English/Japanese story telling and his ability to utilise many different writing styles in the same book is amazing.

Random Acts of Heroic Love – Danny Scheinmann

Random Acts of Heroic Love‘); ?> is an amazing tale of love and loss. Have the tissues handy as this book will make you cry!

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games‘); ?> is a fast paced story which I recommend to everyone I meet. Once you’ve picked it up, you won’t be able to put it down!

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants‘); ?> is a superbly plotted book about life in a circus. I loved the twist in the end too!

Are any of these books your favourites too?

Blogging Other

A Beginner’s Guide to Joining the Book Blogging Community

Blogging is much more fun when other people are involved, but it can be hard to find others to share your passion for books when you have a new blog. Here are a few great ways to connect with other bloggers.

  • The first thing to do is to head over to Fyrefly’s Book Blog Search Engine Index Page. Check to see if your blog is on the list. If it isn’t, add a link to your url in the comments section and Fyrefly will add it for you. This will mean that any blogger searching for reviews for a specific book on the Book Blogs Search Engine will find you.
  • The next thing you need to do is find some bloggers with a similar taste in books to connect with. Try searching for your favourite books on the Book Blogs Search Engine, or by typing the title of the book and the words “blog review” on google.
  • Once you’ve found a blog you enjoy reading, comment on it. Try to leave thoughtful, useful comments as then the blogger is more likely to connect with you. Hopefully you’ll be able to build up a relationship with the blogger over a period of time and they will begin to reciprocate the comments.

More Ways to Find Other Book Bloggers

  • Every Saturday Semicolon hosts the Saturday Review of Books. All you need to do is to head over to her blog each Saturday and leave a link to all the reviews you have written that week. This is a great place to find more recent reviews and connect with people who have read similar books to you. You can discover some great, new blogs there and hopefully a few people will find you too!
  • Taking part in reading challenges is another good way of connecting with other bloggers. Try to find a challenge which suits your reading taste. All new challenges are posted on the Novel Challenge Blog and you can also join the Novel Challenge Yahoo Group to discuss all your reading challenges. Be warned – challenges are addictive. It won’t be long until you’ve signed up for far too many!!
  • LibraryThing is a great place to discuss books, whether you have a blog or not. There are some great discussion boards on there and you’ll also find lots of book recommendations. GoodReads is a similar site for you to investigate.
  • The Book Blogs Ning is also a good place to connect with other bloggers. You’ll find some great blogging tips there and lots of great people!
  • There are lots of memes you can participate in too, but be careful not to do too many, as a site packed with memes is quite off-putting. A complete list of memes/events is on the Book Blogger Appreciation site, and there is a good introducion to memes at Heart of Wisdom.
  • Twitter is a fantastic place to find bloggers. Many of the best book related discussions take place on Twitter – make sure you have a lot of spare time before signing up!
  • Book Carnivals are also great sites to investigate.  The Bookworms Carnival is my favourite, but the Book Review Blog Carnival is also a good place to find new blogs. Try to submit a review if you have any relevant posts. 
  • Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is a great bonding experience – if you fancy staying awake for and entire 24 hours!

Taking it to the Next Level

Once you’ve found your feet and a few blogging friends, then it is time to get a bit more adventurous.

  • Try joining/hosting a read along. Reading a book together is a great bonding experience and you will always get more from a book read with a group than on your own. If you spot someone starting a read along – jump in! Or just write a post saying you are going to read a certain book soon – you might be surprised at who else is keen to read that book too!
  • Host your own challenge/event. If you are feeling very adventurous then you could host your own challenge. Check that you’re not overlapping with any existing challenge at the Novel Challenge Blog. Good luck! 

The book blogging community is a very friendly place. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions – most bloggers are more than happy to answer them.

I hope you enjoy the blogging world!

Can you think of any other ways to become a better member of the blogging community?

Blogging Other

Farm Lane Books is 1 today!

birthday-cupcake A year ago today I posted my first introductory post on this blog, quickly followed by several reviews I’d previously written for The Complete Booker Blog.

So much has happened in my first year of blogging. I never imagined the wonderful experiences that I’d find in this amazing community.

I have always loved reading, but 18 months ago I was completely unaware that the wonderful book blogging community existed. One day I decided to search for reviews of Booker Prize winners, as I’d decided that I wanted to try to read them all. I discovered The Complete Booker Blog and was really excited to discover a group of people who had already decided to take on this challenge. I started to add reviews to this site and then became aware of Musings, the blog belonging to Laura,  the founder of The Complete Booker. I became fascinated by her blog. I loved the idea of writing reviews for each book I read, and as I had similar taste to Laura I became a little bit obsessed with her. I used to log in every day and became really excited whenever she wrote a new post.

After a few weeks I decided to look in to starting my own blog. I became very excited about the idea and did a lot of research into the best platform and templates to use. Finally, with the techincal support of my husband, I launched Farm Lane Books Blog on 28th September 2008.

It wasn’t an easy start for me, although I wrote my first post in September, it wasn’t until November 8th that I received my first comment, from Rose City Reader. Michelle from 1MoreChapter and Teddy Rose from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time were next to find me on 9th and 16th November respectively. Thank you! I still follow all three blogs to this day and each will always hold a special place in my heart for being the ones to start it all off.

I then discovered Weekly Geeks, but for several weeks I was too scared to join in, as everyone seemed to know what they were doing and had such wonderful blogs. I felt so intimidated by them, but then on 24th November I finally plucked up the courage to write my first weekly geek post. I was so excited to have finally taken the plunge and was anxiously waiting for Dewey to welcome me into the blogging community, as I knew she was amazingly good at encouraging new bloggers. Tragically that never happened, as Dewey died on 25th November. I was devastated when I heard the news. She was one of the only bloggers I had discovered at that point. Weekly Geeks was the only community event I had heard of and the whole blogging community seemed to freeze with grief. I didn’t know what to do and my blog continued with me continuing to feel like an outsider in the community I so desperately wanted to join.

Slowly, I began to find my feet. I started to develop relationships with other bloggers.  The first person I connected with was Beth, and she then led me to Sandy. Since then my blog has grown exponentially. I have discovered an amazing range of blogs, found lots of people who understand my passion for books and increased my TBR pile by about 500 books!

Thank you so much for following my blog!

I couldn’t do it without you!

To celebrate I am going to write a series of posts about what I have learned during my first year of blogging. I am also going to reveal my favourite books of all time. I hope you’ll continue to follow my blog and share your passion for reading with me.

1990s Orange Prize

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

 Shortlisted for the Orange Prize 1999

The Poisonwood Bible is a book I had been wanting to read for a long time, but for some reason, I kept putting it off. It wasn’t until the wonderful Michelle offered to send a copy to me, that I was given the push I needed to finally pick it up.

The Poisonwood Bible focuses on a Baptist family who move from America to the Belgian Congo in 1959 with the aim of converting the African people to the Christian faith. The family quickly realise that life in Africa will not be as simple as they imagined. They have to learn to cope with the hardships brought on by both the wildlife and the political instability of the region.

Initially I loved the rich detail of the prose, each of the characters was beautifully crafted and life in the Congo was vividly depicted, but after a couple of hundred pages I began to become frustrated with it. I was expecting the story to take hold once the characters had been introduced, but this didn’t happen. The pace of the book remained incredibly slow, which meant that it often failed to hold my attention. There was no momentum to drive the plot forward, so the 600+ pages seemed to drag more than they should have done.

Despite this criticism it was a very good book; there were a lot of touching scenes and I loved following the family over several decades. This book contained some great messages about which things in society are important and the attitude of Nathan, the fierce minister, will promote some interesting discussions.

And so he continues ministering to the lepers and outcasts. By pure mistake, his implementation is sometimes more pure than his intentions. But mostly it is the other way around. Mostly he shouts, ‘Praise be!’ while the back of his hand knocks you flat.

Recommended to anyone with the patience to read a long, slow novel.


Did you enjoy The Poisonwood Bible?

Are you looking forward to her next novel, The Lacuna, being released in November?

1940s Books in Translation Historical Fiction Nobel Prize

The Dwarf – Pär Lagerkvist

 Pär Lagerkvist won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1951

Translated from the Swedish by Alexandra Dick

Regular readers of my blog may remember the wonderful post, Recommendations from a non-blogger, written by Heidi. In the post Heidi recommended  The Dwarf  by Pär Lagerkvist, which I have never seen mentioned in the blogging world, so was keen to give it a try.

The Dwarf  is set in an Italian City during the Renaissance. The central character is just 26 inches high and is a servant to the Prince. The story follows them as they are drawn in to war and have to deal with death, disease and betrayal.

The Dwarf is probably the most miserable, bitter and twisted character I have ever read about. He seems to be dissatisfied with every aspect of his life – his anger bubbling through onto every page.

It is my fate that I hate my own people. My race is detestable to me. But I hate myself too. I eat my own splenetic flesh. I drink my own poisoned blood.

This made it very different from any other book I’ve read. His bleak outlook on the world meant that he was a very hard character to like and I had little sympathy for him, but despite this I was fascinated by his story. I loved the historical detail about life in an Italian court and found the attitudes of the people really interesting.

This is a quick, easy book to read, but it is packed with messages about the nature of society and the evil that is lurking within us all.



Have you read any books written by Pär Lagerkvist?

1800s Short Story

The Necklace – Guy de Maupassant (Short Story)

41A8X85T6RL__SL500_AA240_Rob from RobAroundBooks is a big fan of short stories, and was disappointed to learn that I don’t like them. He suggested I try The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, claiming it would “touch my heart and soul”. I happened to have a copy in the house and so had no reason to refuse his suggestion – especially since The Necklace is only 8 pages long! If you’d like to read the story for yourself then just follow the link at the beginning of the post.


Unfortunately The Necklace didn’t come close to “touching my heart and soul.” It only confirmed all the major problems I have with short stories.

Let me explain the problems I had with this story by working through the plot.

  • Couple receive invitation to a party. It’s all going well so far.
  • Woman whinges about how she has nothing to wear. I’m beginning to go off it.
  • Woman begs husband for lots of money to buy a new dress and the husband gives in. The plot continues to cause me minor irritation.
  • The woman then begins to moan about not having any jewelry to wear for the night out. I become increasingly irritated by her shallowness.

“I am vexed not to have a jewel, not one stone, nothing to adorn myself with. I shall such a poverty-laden look. I would prefer not to go to this party.”

  • They decide to borrow a necklace from a friend. Can you guess what happens next?
  • She loses the necklace. You see with a short story there is no time for the plot to develop properly – you can see everything coming a mile off.
  • Instead of owning up to losing it she buys another one, ruining 10 years of her life to pay it off. Do they not have any insurance?
  • It turns out the necklace was a fake, so she has wasted all that time/money on nothing. Stupid woman. I have no sympathy at all.

The problem with short stories is that there is no time for any proper character development. To enjoy reading something I need to become emotionally involved with them. The characters in short stories almost always come across as shallow individuals. This is because there isn’t the time to allow all sides of their character to be revealed. In just a few pages it isn’t possible to show all their flaws and explain the history behind them.

The plot in a short story is always very simple. I can normally see it coming a mile away. I like my plots to be complex and preferably surprising too.

Sorry Rob! This one just didn’t do it for me!

Do you have similar problems with short stories?

Did you enjoy The Necklace?