November Summary and Plans for December

I read 12 books in November, but unfortunately I enjoyed this month’s selection less than previous ones. My favourite was The Help byKathryn Stockett, which made it onto my list of  The Best Books of 2009.

My favourite this month

Books reviewed during November

The Help – Kathryn Stockett stars4h

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami stars41

The Nutmeg Tree – Margery Sharp stars41

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi (Book and Film) stars41

Equator – Miguel Sousa Tavares stars41

Perdido Street Station – China Miéville stars3h

Stalking Richard & Judy – Valentine Honeyman stars3h

The Turn of the Screw – Henry James stars3h

Indignation – Philip Roth stars3h

The Brutal Telling – Louise Penny stars3

Outlander (Cross Stitch) – Diana Gabaldon stars21

The Blind Owl – Sadegh Hedayat stars21

The Magicians – Lev Grossman stars1 (DNF)

Plans for December

I have several books lined up to read in December.

Here are the ones I hope to finish next month: 

Have you read any of the books I plan to read?

I hope that you had a great November and I look forward to sharing more book discussions with you in December!

2009 Crime

The Brutal Telling – Louise Penny


The Brutal Telling‘); ?> is set in a remote, artistic community surrounded by the forests of Quebec. The book begins with the discovery of an unknown hermit’s body in the town’s bistro. Chief Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate the crime, in this, the fifth book in the series.

I haven’t read any books written by Loiuse Penny before, but I am always on the look out for a great new crime series to follow. Unfortunately this book failed to live up to my expectations.

The pace of the book was very fast, as a high percentage of it was dialogue. I wanted to know what the characters were thinking and feeling, but instead I only witnessed a string of events.

I found the writing to be quite passive and the characters failed to engage me. My problem in connecting with the characters could be due to the fact that this is the fifth in the series, but I was assured that this book would work as a stand alone novel, and many other people have enjoyed it with out having read the first four books.

The title implies that this will be a very dark novel, but it felt more like a cozy mystery to me, with very little menace. The plot itself was quite basic and lacked the cunning twists and turns that I love in crime fiction. I guessed the murderer quite early on and was disappointed to discover that I was correct.

The writing was of a high standard and there were many good sections in the book, but overall it failed to impress me.

Recommended to people who enjoy fast paced, simple cozy mysteries.


I seem to be one of the only people who didn’t enjoy with this book though: Kittling Books, Ms Bookish and Bibliophile by the Sea all loved it.

Did you enjoy The Brutal Telling?

Have you read any of Louise Penny’s other books?

Book Prizes Other

Book Awards Challenge III Complete!

Click to sign up

The Book Awards III Challenge ran from July 1 to December 1, 2009 and the challenge was to read: 5 books from 5 different awards

I thought that was too easy for me, so to make it more difficult I decided to seek out some of the lesser known awards, and ban myself from including Bookers, Pulitzers or Orange Prize winners in this challenge.

I love reading prize winning books, so I found it easy to complete this challenge, despite my personal restrictions.

The books I read were:

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman (Audio Book) Newbery Medal 2009  stars3h

Perdido Street Station – China Miéville Arthur C Clarke Award 2001 stars3h

De Niro’s Game – Rawi Hage International IMPAC Literary Award 2008 stars3h

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi (Book and Film) Alex Award 2004  stars41

2666 – Roberto Bolaño National Book Critics Circle Award 2008  stars51

I enjoyed looking through lists of book prizes and hope to read many more prize winning books next year.

Did you manage to complete the Book Awards Challenge?




Which books are you going to give this Christmas?

Today is Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days before Christmas, so I thought I’d put together a list of ideas for anyone who is struggling to think of books to buy for their loved ones.

The Gruffalo Jigsaw Book by Julia Donaldson‘); ?>

The Gruffalo is a classic of children’s literature and this jigsaw version is the best copy to have. It is beautiful and the chunky card pages means that it stays that way (as long as you can persuade them not to remove the jigsaw pieces!) Suggested age range: 0 – 6 years

That\’s Not My Bear (and all the other books in this wonderful series) by Fiona Watts ‘); ?>

Babies and toddlers love the different textures in these books and the simple, repetitive nature of the each page means that they quickly learn to recite the words, so they can ‘read’ the books for themselves – giving them an immense sense of achievement. Suggested age range: 0 – 2 years

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers‘); ?>

A story that all book lovers will enjoy reading to younger children. Little ones will be giggling all the way through and they love seeing the place where the back cover has been nibbled! Suggested age range: 3 – 6 years

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus ‘); ?>

It has been 80 years since Winnie-the-Pooh first went on the shelves, so this authorised sequel is a must for all fans. Suggested age range: 5 – adult

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick ‘); ?>

This novel in words and pictures is beautiful. It is a gentle mystery that I enjoyed reading, even as an adult. The book is aimed at children between 9 and 12 year old, but my 4 year old boy enjoyed looking at all the pictures too. If I knew anyone 7 – 12 years old, I’d be buying this for them this Christmas. 

The Arrival by Shaun Tan ‘); ?>

This is a story without words, but the depth of the emotion contained within the pictures is outstanding. Suggested age range: 10 years – adult

The River Cottage Meat Book – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall‘); ?>

This is the best cook book I’ve ever found. It is as much a reference guide, containing everything you’d ever want to know about different cuts of meat, as it is a source of fantastic recipes. Recommended to anyone who enjoys cooking meat.

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell‘); ?>

I haven’t read this one yet, but I’d love to receive a copy for Christmas! Malcolm Gladwell’s insight into our every day lives is always fascinating – this will appeal to a wide range of adults.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson‘); ?>

If you are trying to find a present for a literature lover then you can’t go wrong with any book from Persephone. You just have to decide whether to go for one from the Persephone Classic range, or one of the grey ones with the beautiful end papers – impossible choice!

I admit that I know nothing about teenagers. Which books will you be buying for the teenagers in your family this Christmas?

Are you planning to buy books for Christmas?

Which books do you recommend?

Blogging Other

A Beginner’s Guide to Google Wave

Logging into Google Wave for the first time is a baffling experience. It is almost impossible to work out what to do without the help of others, so I thought I’d create a really simple, step-by-step guide to get you started.

Step 1: Find some Friends

The first thing you need to do is to find some people to connect with. The problem is that not many people are signed up yet and even if they are, you probably don’t know their google wave address.

If you are lucky enough to know their google wave address (mine is farmlanebooks (at) goooglewave (dot) com) then you can add the person using the little + button next to the words manage contacts in the bottom left of the screen.

If you’d like to find some book bloggers then I’ve created this wave:

[wave id=”!w+kNwYIiY_C” height=”200px” server=””]

Just log in and add yourself to it, then click on the avatar of anyone you recognise and add them to your contacts. Once you are following this wave it will be easy for me (or others) to add you to the other book blogging waves.

Step 2: Find Some Waves

The next thing you need to do is find a few waves to read, so that you can start to join in. The best place to start is probably with waves which are open for everyone to see.

To find public waves, type with:public into your search box and then click on the magnifying glass. This will bring up all waves which are viewable by everyone. You can refine this search by including keywords, after the word public, for example with:public FAQ will bring up waves with frequently asked questions, or with:public books will produce a list of waves in which books are mentioned.


Once you know some-one’s google wave address you can search for waves in which they’re participating  in a similar way – for example with:farmlanebooks will bring up all waves which I am currently following.

Step 3: Create a Wave

When you are ready to start a discussion, just click on the New Wave button at the top of the centre panel. Type your message in the box in the right-hand column, then add people you’d like to share your conversation with using the + button next to your avatar. You can make the wave public by adding as a participant. (you’ll need to add to your contact list before you do this)

Step 4: Enjoy Google Wave!

Hopefully, this post will provide enough information to get you started, but if there is anything you’d like to know, then just ask and I’ll do my best to find out the answer for you.

Are you managing to wave successfully now?

Do you have any hints for new users?

Blogging Other

Is Google Wave Useful?

In the last few days Google Wave has started to be used by a growing number of book bloggers. For those of you who don’t know, Google Wave is a collaborative tool that allows people to discuss a topic, or edit a document in real time. I have only used it for a limited period of time, but am not convinced that it will be much use to bloggers on a day-to-day basis.

So far the majority of ‘waves’ are discussion threads, which would be much better if available on a blog, accessible to everyone. I know that people are only experimenting with Wave at the moment, but I find the privacy of Wave worrying. I don’t like the fact that people have to be invited to join in a discussion and worry that new bloggers would find it very hard to be able to join in to the community. It all feels very cliquey, in a way that blogging and Twitter have managed to avoid.

Yesterday I set up a quick poll on Wave, to see if people thought it was useful and almost everyone thought that it would be. A few people expressed concerns about the private nature of Waves, but most thought it would be a beneficial tool.

One of the better aspects of Wave is the ability to import all its functionality into a blog post, but I am unsure as to how this will work. In the interest of science I have included the poll I created yesterday below. Unfortunately it won’t be visible in Internet Explorer, but please can you let me know whether you are able to see it with other browsers. I am particularly interested in whether those without a Wave account are able to view/edit the Wave now that I have made it public.

[wave id=”[wave id=”!w+0sF8bM7VC” server=””]


For those that can’t see the above box – here is a screen shot of it:



I can see that Wave is a great tool for writing joint posts or working together on a bigger project, but it isn’t going to be somewhere I visit daily. If you are lucky enough to have access to Wave, please add me (farmlanebooks (at) googlewave (dot) com) as contact!

Have you found Google Wave useful?

Do you think you’ll use it regularly?