Showing posts from 2010

1 month, 100 books: Getting ready to read

By @liveotherwise : So January the 1st is racing towards us, and we're getting ready for our book reading and reviewing challenge . I hadn't realised how much preparation we would need to do, and I've been thrilled with the response from publishers and others on Twitter. Parcels of books have started to filter through the Christmas backlog, and that's led to its own set of problems, as Small just can't wait to get his hands on them! He's been preparing by devouring his Christmas novel, which he's polished off in 4 days. He's going to have to read a little faster than that though, if he's going to hit his target of 10 books in a month. Has to be said though, that Alien Storm by A G Taylor is not a small book for a 7 year old. Big is fairly confident with the reading, but a little nervous about the reviews. We started a book review website back in the summer, but never got as far as actually publishing it *blush*. That has to change, and its our New Y

Help! My wish list #5

One more title from my long reading wish list. ** The cover image is for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of this book for review, I will change the cover so as to reflect the edition received. ** The Private Lives of Pippa Lee By Rebecca Miller Borders product description: What part of our selves do we hide away in order to have a stable, prosperous life? Pippa Lee has just such a life in place at age fifty, when her older husband, a retired publisher, decides that they should move to a retirement community outside New York City. Pippa is suddenly deprived of the stimulation and distraction that had held everything in place. She begins losing track of her own mind; her foundations start to shudder, and gradually we learn the truth of the young life that led her finally to settle down in marriage -- years of neglect and rebellion, wild transgressions and powerful defiance. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is the study of a brav

The Zoo Keeper - Part 4

Do you think we are finally going to find out the truth about the zoo? The Zoo Keeper Part 4 of 10 By Amanda Sington-Williams She giggled and ran out of the room with her class mates. The director was at the door. ‘So your class went well, did it?’ she asked. She glanced around my room at the abandoned books scattered on the floor, up at the white board where I’d written out the learnt phrases. ‘A little different from where you used to teach, isn’t it?’ For a year, I’d taught in a hot dry southern city famous for its Moorish palace with fountains and domes rising to the sky like blown-up balloons. Beautiful though the palace was, I’d found the metropolitan hub too noisy, with its screeching cars speeding past my bedroom window every night. From a hamlet on the edge of Dartmoor, my tolerance for traffic noise was low. The director and I chatted about the class. All the time, I was checking the pauses in our conversation, searching for an opportunity. It didn’t c

The Zoo Keeper - Part 3

We have arrived in front of the school. Let's step in... The Zoo Keeper Part 3 of 10 By Amanda Sington-Williams Inside the school, the walls were covered in tiles. Red and green, like a sunset on a northern sea, they shimmered in the half-light of the shuttered room. The school director was pleasant enough, a Catalan woman with dyed blonde hair, protruding teeth and a strong belief that the entire Spanish population should become conversant in English so that the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer could be fully understood. Her love of language was derived from her father’s defiance during the Franco years, his insistence that she learn Catalan and study the great Catalan poets. She had travelled in England and visited Kipling’s house; after my interview for the teaching job, she’d exulted over the illustrations for his Jungle Book. And so, as I stood on the threshold of the school, adjusting my eyes to the cool interior, I thought she would be just the person to ask abou

"Italy in Books" - Who's participating?

Here is a list of all the readers who have signed up to take part in the "Italy in Books" reading challenge 2011. If your name is listed below, a huge thank you for signing up! I look forward to sharing reading experiences and talking about books and Italy with you in the New Year! If your name is not listed... go and sign up now! You can register here and find out what it is all about here . And if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll reply asap. 01. Jeane from Dublin, Ireland 02. Julie from Teignmouth, UK 03. Monica from Venice, Italy 04. Emma from Brighton, UK 05. Shelley from Preston, UK 06. Betsy from Maryland, USA 07. Denise from Eltham, UK 08. Lara from Milazzo, Italy 09. Mark from Ferrara, Italy 10. Beth from New York State, USA 11. Lucy from Edinburgh, UK 12. Juliet from Edinburgh, UK 13. Ceil from Illinois, USA 14. Luci from London, UK 15. Dorla from Texas, USA 16. Kathy from California, USA 17. Stuart from Brimington

LGBT reading challenge - Who's participating?

Here is a list of all the readers who have signed up to take part in the LGBT reading challenge 2011. If your name is listed below, a huge thank you for signing up! I look forward to sharing reading experiences and talking about books with you in the New Year! If your name is not listed... go and sign up now! You can register here and find out what it is all about here . And if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll reply asap. 01. Tony from Maryland, USA 02. Phillipe from Utah, USA 03. Juliet from Edinburgh, UK 04. Steven from Bradford, UK 05. Luci from London, UK 06. Jenny from Menith Wood, UK 07. Dorla from Texas, USA 08. Natalie from Sheffield, UK 09. Rosie from Canada/UK 10. Saranga from Norwich, UK 11. Natazzz from Groningen, the Netherlands 12. Chloe from Auckland, New Zealand 13. Abi from Ontario, Canada 14. Barbara from Germany 15. Lucy from Wakefield, UK 16. Shellie from Arizona, USA 17. Eric from Mexico City, Mexico 18. Kat

Help! My wish list #4

Two more titles from my endless reading wish list. ** The cover images are for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of any of these books for review, I will change the cover(s) so as to reflect the edition received. ** Don’t Look at Me Like That By Diana Athill Amazon’s product description: In England half a century ago, well-brought-up young women are meant to aspire to the respectable life. Some things are not to be spoken of; some are most certainly not to be done. There are rules, conventions. Meg Bailey obeys them. She progresses from Home Counties school to un-Bohemian art college with few outward signs of passion or frustration. Her personality is submerged in polite routines; even with her best friend, Roxane, what can't be said looms far larger than what can. But circumstances change. Meg gets a job and moves to London. Roxane gets married to a man picked out by her mother. And then Meg does something shocking - shoc

Italy in Books: An early Christmas present!

The start of the " Italy in Books " reading challenge 2011 is getting increasingly near and I'm doing my best to provide you with great entertainment all year round, be it in the form of amazing monthly prizes or brilliant guest bloggers! As an early Christmas present, here is a little anticipation... Ciao a tutti! (or) Hello everyone! I'd like to take a moment to introduce myself to the readers of Book after Book! I'm Kimberly Menozzi, the author of Ask Me if I'm Happy, and Silvia has invited me to join her blog for a series of guest posts in 2011. I'll be writing about my experiences as a foreigner living in Italy in "Senza Ali e Senza Rete – Without Wings and Without a Net". Once a month, I'll share a short story/essay about my life here in northern Italy – a place I'd never even dreamed of seeing until I found myself living here, quite by chance. I hope you'll enjoy my posts and that you'll share your thoughts with us

The Zoo Keeper - Part 2

Welcome back! Are you ready to find out what the barman knows? The Zoo Keeper Part 2 of 10 By Amanda Sington-Williams ‘I didn’t realise there was a zoo in the park,’ I said to him in my exquisitely pronounced Spanish, learnt in an English university. He spent a great deal of time polishing a glass, rubbing and chafing it with a cloth until it squeaked like a frightened mouse. ‘There is no zoo,’ he said in a deliberate voice. ‘But I heard a lion’s roar in the middle of the night.’ I saw that his left eye was starting to twitch. ‘It came from just over there.’ I pointed to the park. ‘Dogs,’ he said. He licked his finger and smoothed down his moustache. ‘No zoo.’ I wanted to question him further, to engage him in a conversation about zoos. For I knew about zoos: my uncle had been a zoo keeper. A kindly man with hair sprouting, multi layered like an orangutan and eyes the same colour as a seal’s coat, his job was to look after the ape house. It is said that

Books and snow

I don't really know how copyrights work so - just in case - I am not going to post here one of the pictures that on Friday, December 17th was part of the Europe under snow slideshow on the Guardian's website. However, nobody forbids me to encourage you to click here and take a look! The photograph was taken by Margriet Faber in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The caption says: A man removes snow from the awning of a bookstore in the city centre. The picture portrays really nicely the disruptions and complications that snowfalls are causing to our daily lives all over Europe. As a booklover, however, I am looking at this good shot and all I can think of is: why on earth are they leaving their books outside while it's snowing?!

The Zoo Keeper - Part 1

It is with great pleasure that I am able to present The Zoo Keeper , a short story by Brighton-based author Amanda Sington-Williams . The story will be serialised on Book After Book twice weekly over the next five weeks. It has been read at Short Fuse live literature events at Brighton Komedia and is also available in downloadable format from Ether Books . So, are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin… The Zoo Keeper Part 1 of 10 By Amanda Sington-Williams It was before dawn when the first growl wove through my dream. A few minutes later a howl startled me out of sleep. I hurried over to the balcony that overlooked the park. This was my first night in my new apartment and it was the balcony with its balustrades and pots of flowering geraniums that had first attracted me to it. Chosen out of dozens advertised for renting in the local Spanish newspaper, the aspect was just what I was looking for. After I’d unpacked, I’d taken a walk round the park: a playground, a

One month, one hundred books!

Jax is a UK-based home-educating mother of three and - to use her own words - has been "blogging, ranting, wibbling and waffling" at Making it up since 2003. I came across her blog a few weeks ago. You know how it is with the world wide web: you jump from link to link and from page to page and half of the time you don't actually find anything that can hold your interest for more than a few moments. That's not the case with Making it up ! What grabbed my full attention was a post announcing her and her children's intention to read 100 books in a month to help raise money for charity. Yes, that's right: one hundred books in one month . I just had to contact this woman to know more and she kindly agreed to write a piece for the readers of Book After Book , explaining how this wonderful but intimidating idea was born! *** Recently, I took part in a Simplify Your Christmas carnival hosted by Who’s the Mummy . The item I chose to highlight was the Oxfam Unwrapped

Jeanette Winterson reads Italo Calvino

This is such perfect timing! To celebrate my " Italy in Books " reading challenge 2011, Jeanette Winterson has kindly agreed to read The Night Driver , a short story written in 1967 by the famous Italo Calvino. OK, maybe that's just wishful thinking! Jeanette Winterson is simply one of the authors taking part in the Guardian's podcast to introduce their favourite short story by another writer. I believe that the English version is a translation from the Italian by William Weaver and it begins like this: As soon as I am outside the city I realize night has fallen. I turn on my headlights. So click here , sit back, close your eyes and enjoy the drive...

Help! My wish list #3

Two more titles from my ever-expanding reading wish list. ** The cover images are for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of any of these books for review, I will change the cover(s) so as to reflect the edition received. ** Mrs Woolf and the Servants By Alison Light Amazon’s product description: Virginia Woolf was a feminist and a bohemian but without her servants – cooking, cleaning and keeping house - she might never have managed to write. Mrs Woolf and The Servants explores the hidden history of service. Through Virginia Woolf’s extensive diaries and letters and brilliant detective work, Alison Light chronicles the lives of those forgotten women who worked behind the scenes in Bloomsbury, and their fraught relations with one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers. A Boy at the Hogarth Press By Richard Kennedy Amazon’s product description: After a rather unsuccessful education at Marlborough College, in 1926 sixteen-ye

Book review: A Soup for Every Day

By New Covent Garden Food Co. Published by Boxtree New Covent Garden Food Company has been providing quality, homemade soup to British supermarkets since 1987 and has recently produced a wonderful cookbook containing 365 of their favourite recipes. Starting with the front cover, the hardback looks as appetising as their iconic soup cartons. Then, once you start browsing the pages, you can’t help but noticing the elegance and simplicity of the design. All daily entries neatly display the name of the featured soup with its ingredients, cooking time and number of servings, neatly followed by clear and simple instructions. I always feel like there is something missing from a cookbook without photographs but you won’t even notice their absence once you start reading about all the mouth-watering soups that you could be cooking for yourself and your family. Tomato, pepperoni and parmesan; red lentil, lemon and thyme; king prawn and chorizo; sweet potato, butternut squash and chill

LGBT reading challenge 2011

Why this challenge? LGBT literature is so rich and varied and worth talking more about. That’s why I am hosting this challenge: to keep learning and sharing reading experiences. And, why not, to do my own tiny bit for a more accepting world – one book at a time! The details of the challenge The challenge will run from January, 1st 2011 to December, 31st 2011 . Because I’m also completing another challenge, I’m not setting a goal. You can decide how many books you want to read during the year . Obviously: the more you read, the more prize draws you’ll be able to enter! See the section “Resources” below for some suggestions. What qualifies as LGBT reading? I will accept reviews of books whose author is LBGT, whose topic is LGBT and/or whose characters (even minor ones) are LGBT. Fiction and non-fiction titles are equally accepted. The challenge is open to bloggers and non bloggers alike. There will be monthly prizes for participants. How to sign up If you are a blogger: create a po

Help! My wish list #2

This week's two titles from my reading wish list share an incredible writer... ** The cover images are for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of any of these books for review, I will change the cover(s) so as to reflect the edition received. ** The Devil and Miss Prym By Paulo Coelho Amazon’s product description: The Devil and Miss Prym is the conclusion to the trilogy And on the Seventh Day which began with By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept and the hugely popular Veronika Decides to Die . Each of the three books focuses on a week in the life of ordinary people faced with a major life-changing force; be it love, death or power, it is Coelho's firm belief that "the profoundest changes take place within a very reduced time frame". The Devil and Miss Prym sees a stranger arriving in the remote mountain village of Viscos carrying with him a notebook and 11 bars of gold. The first person to strike up conv

“Italy in books” - reading challenge 2011

Why this challenge? This year I’ve decided to host a reading challenge because I think that they are a brilliant idea. They help to make reading a more collective experience and are a great way to find out more about any particular author / genre / topic and get to know about books you might never have come across. I chose this topic because - as an Italian who has been living abroad for many years now - I feel the need to learn more about my home country and I’m curious to see the difference between the way it is portrayed by native Italians and others. The details of the challenge The challenge will run from January, 1st 2011 to December, 31st 2011 . The aim of the challenge is to read at least 12 books that are set in Italy. Whether written by Italian authors or not, it doesn’t matter. They don’t have to be set exclusively in Italy but this country needs to play a significant role in the book. The challenge can include non-fiction books about Italy. You can also review Italian lea

Help! My wish list #1

As anticipated, here are the first two titles on my reading wish list. ** The cover images are for illustrative purposes only. If you are a publisher and would kindly like to offer me a copy of any of these books for review, I will change the cover(s) so as to reflect the edition received. ** Impossible Country : Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia By Brian Hall Amazon’s product description : Brian Hall journeyed through Yugoslavia in the spring and summer of 1991, just as Croatia and Slovenia were seceding and the country was starting to slide into civil war. In this book he describes a country in which the release of communism's iron grip and a wave of rumour and propaganda had reopened older wounds, turning uneasy co-existence between the various national and religious communities into open hostility. His conversations - with farmers, artists, defence fighters, politicians - demonstrate how intelligent, liberal citizens can be persuaded to believe the very worst of anot

Book review: Rendezvous

By Ester Verhoef Translation from the Dutch by Alexander Smith Published by Quercus Publishing Plc Esther Verhoef is the author of Rendezvous , a book that can only be described as unputdownable. A term that I don’t particularly like but that is the only way to define this 345-page-long hardback. The story opens in prison, where a desperate Simone is being held in a cell waiting to be questioned for what we’ll later find out is a case of murder. Unable to talk to anybody, she starts going through the events of the past year in her mind, trying to understand how she lost everything she had. Everything had started when, together with her husband Eric and their two children, Simone had left behind the hectic city life of Amsterdam and moved to a little village in the south of France. On impulse, they had bought an 18th century house with the intention of turning it into a successful B&B. Between the present and that idyllic future, however, the renovation works posed a big obstacle fo

Help! My wish list

My reading wish list is getting longer and longer. My reading time, however, remains the same. New titles, new covers, new authors… every day I am exposed to new bookish stimuli and my mind is finding it difficult to keep up! That’s why I have decided to start a new, weekly post! It will serve as a reminder for me and as an opportunity for you to tell me what you thought of the books I want to read. There is a risk that this could lead to more recommendations and that I will end up with an even longer wish list… but I’m that reckless! The first post of the Help! My wish list series will follow soon…

Book review: Bloomsbury in Sussex

By Simon Watney Illustrated by Barbara Childs Published by Snake River Press With its pale rose cover and elegant layout, the sixth volume in the Snake River Press series “Books About Sussex for the Enthusiast” is dedicated to Bloomsbury in Sussex. Bloomsbury is normally associated with London but the members of the celebrated group of artists, writers and thinkers were also very fond of the rural landscape of the South Downs and enjoyed the freedom that living in the country allowed them. In this resourceful guide, Simon Watney provides an overview of the Modernist group before delving deep in what you could call its “Sussex heritage” – from Virginia Woolf’s homes in Firle and Asheham, which helped her form a strong bond with Sussex, to Monk’s House, in Rodmell, where she lived with her husband Leonard until her death. The tour continues with the Charleston farmhouse, home to Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and, perhaps, the most famous meeting place of Bloomsbury in Sussex and, last bu

Book review: Back Row Brighton

Published by QueenSpark Books Back Row Brighton – Cinema-going in Brighton & Hove is a glossy paperback that should feature in the library of anyone who’s interested in the history of cinema or in the past of this vibrant city. And if you’re interested in both, you will be amazed by the amount of information provided. Chapter after chapter, we learn about the cinemas that have graced the streets of Brighton & Hove from 1909 to the present. Some have had a short life, while others have lasted longer. Some have changed name an innumerable amount of times. Some were considered classy, while others were places that parents forbad their children to go to. Going to the cinema, however, whether shiny or shabby, was always considered a treat: an almost magical experience that most of the uninspiring buildings that host our cinemas today are unable to offer. The only cinema that is featured in the book and that is still operating today is the independent Duke of York’s Picture

Book review: The Winter Ghosts

By Kate Mosse Published by Orion Books Expanding an idea that she previously explored in The Cave - a novella that was part of the 2009 Quick Reads initiative - Kate Mosse has created an evocative ghost story that I just could not get enough of. In 1933, Freddie Watson travels to Toulouse in search of Monsieur Saurat, a known translator of Occitan, an old Romance language. Presented with an antique parchment written in this ancient tongue, the French librarian enquiries about its origins. And so the tale begins… It’s 1928 and Freddie, still unable to cope with the loss of his beloved brother during the Great War, has been recommended a change of scenery by his doctors. He sets off to the South of France and, while travelling through the Pyrenees, he gets caught up in a snowstorm and loses control of his car. Surviving the crash, he walks in the woods until he arrives in an eerily quiet village where he takes refuge at the pension run by Madame Galy and her surly husband. Despite being

Bookish bites

In her autobiographical first novel, Wild Swans , Jung Chang narrates the story of three amazing women: her grandmother, her mother and herself. A fascinating account of Chinese history that spans from 1909, when the country was ruled by warlords, to the 1990s and the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. Isabel’s Daughter , written by Judith Hendricks, focuses on Avery James and on her journey from a founding home in Colorado to the art élite of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s there that, piece after piece, she puts together the puzzle of the mother she never knew. Two books, five strong women – it doesn’t matter whether they are real or fictional. And again: two book and two authors who, with their skilful words, are able to bring times and places to life.

Competition time: 1 copy of Another Night Before Christmas

For a chance to win a copy of Another Night Before Christmas by Carol Ann Duffy you need to fill out this form and be a follower of this blog. For one extra entry, follow me on Twitter too and RT my competition-related messages: One copy available. The competition ends on December 13th at 14:00 GMT. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted on the same day.

Book review: Another Night Before Christmas

By Carol Ann Duffy Published by Picador Christmas is approaching. Never mind presents and roast turkeys, it’s time for another magical tale penned by our Poet Laureate! For the joy of children and adults alike, Carol Ann Duffy takes the Christmas Victorian classic and transforms it into a modern, yet timeless, story of hope and belief. Late on Christmas Eve, a child creeps down the stairs and hides behind an armchair. She is determined to find out whether Santa Claus is real. As a shooting star high up above starts to take the shape of a sleigh pulled by reindeer, she falls asleep by the fireplace. Will she wake up in time to see the man dressed in red from head to toe who suddenly stands in her living room? Rob Ryan’s gorgeous illustrations, appearing like dreams in black and white vignettes enriched by golden details, are a perfect accompaniment to the beautifully rhyming verses of this cute, little hardback.

Book review: R2D2 Lives in Preston

By Shaun Keaveny Published by Boxtree Do you live in a small village in the middle of the British countryside? In a moderately-sized town? Or in one of the big cities? Have you often boasted a famous connection to the place you come from? Or, perhaps, always wondered if anything interesting had ever happened there? If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to at least one of these questions, go and get this book. But then, I recommend it to anyone who is interested in geography and historical anecdotes! A dose of national pride wouldn’t hurt either because Shaun Keaveny, helped by the faithful listeners of his BBC 6Music show, aims to do exactly that: Toast the Nation. Helpfully divided into six regions, the featured places come with lists of wittily compiled ‘Favourite facts’ and ‘Local heroes’. In some cases, there are even a Playlist and comments by both Keaveny and his radio listeners. All of this in a refreshing font and layout that set an extremely playful tone. And why not, you could use the boo

Book review: Mock the Week: Next Year’s Book

Published by Boxtree , an imprint of Pan Macmillan, this new and colourful hardback is an explosive collection of one-liners from the successful BBC2 comedy show. With its compact and immediate format, it’s a perfect gift for humour lovers and a great tool to lighten up a bad day – or to make a good day even better! As a bibliophile, my favourite categories are: Lines you won’t find in an Enid Blyton book, Unlikely things to read in a romance novel and Things you wouldn’t read in a children’s book. The absolute winner, though, would have to be: Unlikely things to read on the back of a book. Mock the Week has something for everybody but it comes with a warning: contains strong language – and your stomach might hurt from laughing too much!

Book review: I have waited , and you have come

By Martine McDonagh Published by Myriad Editions With her début novel, Martine McDonagh delves into the hotly debated topic of climate change. And what a dark world she envisages: submerged lands and isolated territories where death and hunger are common realities. Rachel, the post-apocalyptic heroine of this book, avoids human contact as much as possible and finds comfort in a solitary life, far away from the communities that have sprung up to help people cope with the new and disastrous state of affairs. What pushes her then to make a first step towards another person? Whatever it is, it unwillingly develops into an obsessive search for the elusive Jez White, who is in turns the hunter and the hunted. In this ominous future, the landscape is not just a background rather a heavy presence, one of the main characters. It shapes the way that people think and behave; it decides where they can go and what they can do. McDonagh’s skilfully chosen words almost have a palpable structure, wet

First impressions can be deceptive!

My two new recommendations are books that I wouldn't have normally picked up myself but that I ended up enjoying a lot. First up is A Special Relationship - by Douglas Kennedy. It tells the story of Sally Goodchild, an American who falls in love with British fellow journalist Tony Hobbs. She gets pregnant, they marry and, taking advantage of her post-natal depression, he takes their baby away from her soon after his birth. Battle ensues. Now, I thought: how can a male author successfully narrate this story from the female point of view? I was sceptical. After reading the book I still don't know how he has done it but I do know that it is possible. My second recommendation is Save Karyn - by Karyn Bosnak. A young woman moves to New York for work and - shop after shop, beauty salon after beauty salon - ends up owing lots of money to lots of people. Not seeing a way out, she builds a website telling her story and asking people to contribute to her salvation. She does it out of

Book review: Room

By Emma Donoghue Published by Picador Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010, Room is a book that, regardless of any literary prize, will be remembered for a long time. Little Jack and his Ma live in Room with Wardrobe, Rug and other various objects-cum-friends. They spend their time playing, singing, reading, exercising and watching a little television. At night, the person they named Old Nick comes to visit Ma and Jack goes to sleep in Wardrobe. Jack likes his world with the exception of those days when Ma doesn’t move from the bed, when she is “gone”. Ma has also another name but Jack doesn’t know it. He is going to find it out soon though because Ma decided that she doesn’t want to live in Room anymore. She wants to live in Outside. Jack is not sure. There is Room and then there are the people in television. Now his Ma his saying that the things they see in television are real and he doesn’t really understand that. But he will have to. Soon. Room makes you smile even when you al