My Recent Book Buys and the Bloggers to Blame

I have hundreds of unread books in my house so do my best to avoid buying new ones, but sometimes other bloggers write reviews so compelling it is impossible to ignore them. I try to resist the temptation, but that positive review eats away at me until I have a copy in my hands. The power of the blogger means that this can sometimes be weeks, months, or even years after I first read the review, but once a trusted source has raved about something I always have its title in my mind.

Here are the books I’ve bought in the last few months, along with quotes from the bloggers who persuaded me to part with my cash:



 Galore by Michael Crummey

I loved this book for its tall tales, its surprising twists, and the characters which people its pages.  Caribousmom




The Human Bobby

 The Human Bobby by Gabe Rotter

Literally we did not put the book down until we turned the last page two hours later. A Reader’s Respite





 That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott

Thanks to numerous ravings from Australian bloggers on Twitter.




Gods in Alabama

 Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson (Audio)

But somehow Jackson has differentiated herself from the masses by her unique and achingly human characters. You’ve Gotta Read This!



The Death of Grass (Penguin Modern Classics)

The Death of Grass by John Christopher

Will we do anything in the world to protect our friends, families and loved ones? Even if it means compromising on the ideals we’ve always believed in? Another Cookie Crumbles

Yes, I know she wrote the review nearly two years ago, but I only bought the book last month – I had hoped I’d find a copy in the library, but had to admit defeat and buy a copy as I really want to read it!



 Villain by Shuichi Yoshida

This atmospheric, and intricately woven, novel carries us over the passes we have traveled in our lives, both real and imaginary. Dolce Bellezza




The Piano Man's Daughter..

 The Piano Man’s Daughter by Timothy Findley

Bought thanks to ravings from Pink Sheep Cafe.



I don’t think I’d have come across many of these books without bloggers. I’m grateful they have expanded my reading horizons and improved my overall enjoyment of the books I read.

Have you read any of these books?

Which do you think I should read first?

1980s Classics Horror

The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory

Five words from the blurb: killed, brother, unconventional, bizarre, cruel

I have had The Wasp Factory on my shelf for a long time, but I’d been too scared to read it. How could I possibly enjoy a book about a child who enjoys murdering children and torturing animals? In a bold moment I decided to give it a try and I’m almost ashamed to admit that I loved it.

The book follows Frank, a disturbed teenager who admits to murdering three people.

A death is always exciting, always makes you realise how alive you are, how vulnerable but so-far-lucky; but the death of someone close gives you a good excuse to go crazy for a whale and do things that would otherwise be inexcusable. What a delight to behave really badly and still get loads of sympathy!

I was completely gripped to the text, desperate to know why he killed members of his family and how he managed to get away with it.

I admit that there were a couple of gruesome scenes, but for some reason they didn’t disturb me. I’m sure that some people will be disgusted by this entire book, but I thought that Banks did a good job of lifting the mood with humour. I was also impressed by how much I enjoyed seeing inside Frank’s disturbed mind, despite hating the majority of his actions.

I loved the ending. This is one of those wonderful books where clues are sprinkled throughout the text, but it is impossible to guess the outcome. The resulting moral message of the text added to my appreciation.

I can see why this book has become a modern day classic. It is unique, bizarre, clever and compelling. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this story, but I’m very glad I don’t know anyone like Frank!

Highly recommended.


Did you enjoy The Wasp Factory?

Which is your favourite Iain Banks book?


An Interview in Pictures with Carolina from Eclectic Book Readings




Today Book Blogger Appreiciation Week is encouraging bloggers to find out a little more about each other via a series of interview swaps. My interview partner is Carolina from Eclectic Book Readings.

Carolina reads a wide variety of different genres and can be found reading anything from YA to the classics. She lives in Portugal  and can be found on twitter @eclectic_reader. I hadn’t heard of her blog before I was assigned her as an interview partner, but I’ll definitely be returning. I’m sure a lot of you will love her blog, so please head over and take a look.

Inspired by a wordless interview with Shaun Tan and Simon’s Book Taste Meme I thought it would be nice to keep words to a minimum and Carolina kindly agree to answer all her questions with the use of photographs. Here are her photographic answers to my questions:

How would you describe your blog?


Can you show your taste in books with a
single image?












Which is your favourite book?












Are your book shelves well organised?












 Where do you like to read?








What is it like where you live?





A big thanks to Carolina for answering my questions! I particularly like her reading taste photo – so dark and atmospheric. I fancy reading a book like that right now…

Head over to Carolina’s blog to see my answers to her questions. 


My Favourite Book Blogging Community Builders




Today marks the start of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, a time to celebrate the hard work of bloggers from around the world.

The book blogging world is growing all the time so it is increasingly hard to feel part of the community. Luckily there are a few bloggers out there doing everything they can to build relationships between bloggers.

My post A Beginner’s Guide to Joining the Book Blogging Community explains some of best ways to form bonds with other bloggers, but today I’d like to highlight those doing a fantastic job, making our online experience warm and welcoming.


Beth Fish Reads

Beth and I started blogging at a very similar time and so I have enjoyed watching her blog grow and blossom into the amazing place it is today. We don’t really have the same taste in books, but I love the way she does everything possible to unite bloggers of all reading tastes. She is always helpful and encouraging to new bloggers and is a constant source of bookish information on twitter (@bethfishreads).

She links bloggers from a wide variety of genres with her weekend cooking feature and always seems to be encouraging bloggers to join in with community events. She is at the heart of the book blogging community.

Leeswammes’s Blog

Judith is the centre of the European book blogging community. She organised the Book Bloggers Abroad feature that showed how life is different for bloggers from around the world, started a Literary Giveaway Blog Hop and is a member of the Independent Literary Awards.

She is always a positive voice on twitter (@leeswammes), encouraging friendly interaction and unity. And the best thing? She has an almost identical reading taste to me, so I trust every single book recommendation she suggests.

Kittling: Books

If you want to know what is going on in the blogging world then I recommend following Kittling: Books. Every week Cathy does a fantastic weekly link roundup detailing all the major events of the past week. She also seems to know just about everyone, thanks to her wonderful Scene of the Blog feature. I recommend following her!

International Reading Challenges

I also love anything that encourages people to read books from outside their own culture. Hello Japan!, The South Asian Review Database and Nigerian Literature Fridays are some of my favourite current initiatives.

Blogging is a wonderful hobby, but it is so much more enjoyable when we all work together, sharing the joy of books.

Thank you to Amy and all those who organised the wonderfully positive Book Bloggers Appreiciaition Week!

2011 Booker Prize

Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan

Half Blood Blues Short listed for 2011 Booker Prize

Five words from the blurb: Berlin, black, betrayal, cabaret, secrets

Half Blood Blues begins in 1940s Paris and follows the members of a jazz band who have fled to the city to escape the Nazi regime. The star of the band is Hiero, a trumpet player of outstanding talent. But as a black man of German origin he finds that Paris soon becomes just as dangerous as the German home that he left behind. The other band members, Sid and Chip, are African-Americans, but as US citizens they have less to fear. The story follows Sid and Chip as they reunite fifty years later and begin deal with the guilt they feel for the events that took place in Paris all those years ago.

This book has a fantastic atmosphere. The dialect instantly transports you into the lives of this little known section of society.

A real racket started up across the street. I looked up to see Hieronymus yanking on the bug’s door like he meant to break in. Like he reckoned he got the power to pop every damn lock in this city. When it didn’t open, what did he do but press his fool face up to the glass like a child. Hell, though, he was a child. Stupid young for what he could do on a horn. You heard a lifetime in one brutal note.  

Initially I found the writing very engaging, but it did lose some momentum in the central section. This slight lull in plot was quickly forgotten as I reached the final pages – I loved the emotional ending.

Despite these positives I didn’t fall in love with this book. I think this is mainly due to the fact that I am not a big lover of music, especially jazz. I’m sure that anyone with an interest in the jazz scene will enjoy this book a lot more than I did.

My second problem was that although this book covered a refreshingly different section of society it basically tells the same type of WWII story that I’ve read many times before.

If you are a jazz fan then I highly recommend this book to you, but tread carefully if you’re after literary depth or a new way of looking at the world.


The thoughts of other bloggers:

I can’t say I really connected with the characters. Lucy Bird Books

I like little corners of  World war two, like this one…. Winstonsdad’s Blog 

Despite plenty of research, the story seems to lack veracity… The Art of Fiction 

Booker Prize Other

The 2011 Booker Prize Short List

The 2011 Booker short list has just been announced as:

(all links go to my thoughts on each book)

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edgyan

Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller DNF


SnowdropsThe Sisters BrothersPigeon English

Half Blood Blues: From Berlin to Paris. Two Friends. One BetrayalThe Sense of an EndingJamrach's Menagerie

I predicted 4/6 correctly, so can’t say I was very surprised by the announcement; although I must have failed to see something in Pigeon English, as I predicted it would be the book least likely to make the cut.

I’m pleased I can now put the Booker prize behind me for another year and concentrate on some more random reading.