Annabel's House of Books

Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book.

Month: December 2008 (page 1 of 4)

A Great Year of Reading

I’m so pleased with my reading this year. I’ve managed to read 114 books – the most I’ve read in a year since my commuting days (when I could easily polish off 3 or 4 books a week in a hour each way journey). I’ve reviewed them all on Librarything and the full list of what I’ve read, with ratings and links is on the sidebar.

At the risk of boring you I’ve done a little analysis with the aim of helping to make a few “Reading Resolutions” for tomorrow. In 2008, I read:

  • 30,826 pages
  • 100 novels
  • 14 non-novels of which 2 were poetry
  • About a tenth were European – and those were exclusively French or Scandinavian except for Blindness by Saramago.
  • Just 5% were written by Non-UK, European or US authors
  • Nearly 20% were crime novels or thrillers
  • The next biggest genre with 10% were historical novels
  • The most amazing statistic is that nearly three quarters were published in 2000 or later. This goes to show how drawn I am to reading all the newbies rather than visiting the TBR mountains!
  • Most of the rest were published after I was born, just ten were pre 1960.
  • I read more Penguins than books from any other publisher, but also more novels from small or new publishers this year.

See you in the New Year!

A Great Year of Reading

I’m so pleased with my reading this year. I’ve managed to read 114 books – the most I’ve read in a year since my commuting days (when I could easily polish off 3 or 4 books a week in a hour each way journey). I’ve reviewed them all on Librarything and the full list of what I’ve read, with ratings and links is on the sidebar.

At the risk of boring you I’ve done a little analysis with the aim of helping to make a few “Reading Resolutions” for tomorrow. In 2008, I read:

  • 30,826 pages
  • 100 novels
  • 14 non-novels of which 2 were poetry
  • About a tenth were European – and those were exclusively French or Scandinavian except for Blindness by Saramago.
  • Just 5% were written by Non-UK, European or US authors
  • Nearly 20% were crime novels or thrillers
  • The next biggest genre with 10% were historical novels
  • The most amazing statistic is that nearly three quarters were published in 2000 or later. This goes to show how drawn I am to reading all the newbies rather than visiting the TBR mountains!
  • Most of the rest were published after I was born, just ten were pre 1960.
  • I read more Penguins than books from any other publisher, but also more novels from small or new publishers this year.

See you in the New Year!

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

I have my Secret Santa to thank for reading this book – it was unputdownable, a wonderful choice – thank you!

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman is a quirky, modern fairy tale taking its inspiration from the Brothers Grimm. A young girl wishes her mother dead, and then when it happens, she lets it ruin her life. She hardens her heart and is determined to never let anyone get close again. She spends her life in New Jersey as a librarian dealing in cold facts, where only policeman Jack Lyons seems to understand her and satisfy her sexual needs, but that’s as far as that relationship goes – she’s emotionally dead inside.

Then she moves to Florida with her brother and is even more alone in this hot and humid state. One day she gets struck by lightning which she survives but is left with all sorts of physical difficulties, including not being able to see the colour red anymore. She hears about another lightning survivor who was pronounced dead but came back to life, and is drawn to seek him out. Lazarus Jones is her complete opposite, a man alive with heat. They become obsessed with each other – the ice queen and fire king, and begin an affair, but it is clear that he is hiding something, and she is in danger of him thawing her heart …

Not a word is wasted in this wonderful novel, yet your emotions are put through the wringer continuously. First of all, in sadness and frustration for this un-named woman who has let a childhood fantasy ruin her life, then when she finally learns to take a chance with love, you feel real happiness for her, it is so great when she lets go. Her life is a real emotional rollercoaster, but erotic too – her affair with Lazarus Jones is sizzling! But the thing that got to me most was her loss of red, the colour of lifeblood pulsing, the shade of her dress that so affects all who see it, except her – she doesn’t know its hue – I can’t imagine not having that powerful colour in my life.

A truly fantastic novel to end the year’s reading on. 10/10

* * * * *
Source: Gift. To explore on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman, Vintage paperback, 224 pages.

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

I have my Secret Santa to thank for reading this book – it was unputdownable, a wonderful choice – thank you!

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman is a quirky, modern fairy tale taking its inspiration from the Brothers Grimm. A young girl wishes her mother dead, and then when it happens, she lets it ruin her life. She hardens her heart and is determined to never let anyone get close again. She spends her life in New Jersey as a librarian dealing in cold facts, where only policeman Jack Lyons seems to understand her and satisfy her sexual needs, but that’s as far as that relationship goes – she’s emotionally dead inside.

Then she moves to Florida with her brother and is even more alone in this hot and humid state. One day she gets struck by lightning which she survives but is left with all sorts of physical difficulties, including not being able to see the colour red anymore. She hears about another lightning survivor who was pronounced dead but came back to life, and is drawn to seek him out. Lazarus Jones is her complete opposite, a man alive with heat. They become obsessed with each other – the ice queen and fire king, and begin an affair, but it is clear that he is hiding something, and she is in danger of him thawing her heart …

Not a word is wasted in this wonderful novel, yet your emotions are put through the wringer continuously. First of all, in sadness and frustration for this un-named woman who has let a childhood fantasy ruin her life, then when she finally learns to take a chance with love, you feel real happiness for her, it is so great when she lets go. Her life is a real emotional rollercoaster, but erotic too – her affair with Lazarus Jones is sizzling! But the thing that got to me most was her loss of red, the colour of lifeblood pulsing, the shade of her dress that so affects all who see it, except her – she doesn’t know its hue – I can’t imagine not having that powerful colour in my life.

A truly fantastic novel to end the year’s reading on. 10/10

* * * * *
Source: Gift. To explore on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman, Vintage paperback, 224 pages.

The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor

This book is definitely one of those love it or loathe it novels. You’ll either love it – for the clever plotting and gradual reveal of what has happened to its family, or loathe it primarily because many chapters are written in eight year old Finn’s phonetic speaking voice, where things like changing an ‘a’ for a ‘u’ in ‘can’t’ may upset, as will the sexual awakening of young teenager Alice – we hear her voice directly in the second half.

I fall into the first camp – I loved it, even more so once I was used to Finn’s voice which does take a few chapters. Right from the beginning you want to find out what happened to this family, God-fearing Pa, Finn, Alice and little sister Daisy – and what became of their mother?

Pa tells of a great flood, how he built an ark and that they are the only survivors, lucky to end up on a verdant and fertile island paradise with plenty of wildlife. Their desert island books are the Bible, Shakespeare and Grimm’s fairy tales, Alice is starting to get interested in Romeo and Juliet …. a portent of problems to come when this teenager begins to question their situation as her pre-flood memories are awakened. Finn however is having the adventure of a lifetime, until his cat Snowy dies which makes him very sad. Daisy, we never hear directly from but then she’s only three and knows no other life.

Then one day a stranger arrives and the family are no-longer alone. Will is not whom he seems, but this doesn’t stop Alice falling for him and naturally this plunges the family into conflict. Revelations, twists and turns come thick and fast as the novel hurtles towards its climax.

To explain any more would give too much away, so I will leave you to make up your own minds. If you can cope with the challenging language and themes there is much to get out of this novel.

* * * * *
Source: Librarything Early Reviewiers. To explore on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor, Faber paperback.

The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor

This book is definitely one of those love it or loathe it novels. You’ll either love it – for the clever plotting and gradual reveal of what has happened to its family, or loathe it primarily because many chapters are written in eight year old Finn’s phonetic speaking voice, where things like changing an ‘a’ for a ‘u’ in ‘can’t’ may upset, as will the sexual awakening of young teenager Alice – we hear her voice directly in the second half.

I fall into the first camp – I loved it, even more so once I was used to Finn’s voice which does take a few chapters. Right from the beginning you want to find out what happened to this family, God-fearing Pa, Finn, Alice and little sister Daisy – and what became of their mother?

Pa tells of a great flood, how he built an ark and that they are the only survivors, lucky to end up on a verdant and fertile island paradise with plenty of wildlife. Their desert island books are the Bible, Shakespeare and Grimm’s fairy tales, Alice is starting to get interested in Romeo and Juliet …. a portent of problems to come when this teenager begins to question their situation as her pre-flood memories are awakened. Finn however is having the adventure of a lifetime, until his cat Snowy dies which makes him very sad. Daisy, we never hear directly from but then she’s only three and knows no other life.

Then one day a stranger arrives and the family are no-longer alone. Will is not whom he seems, but this doesn’t stop Alice falling for him and naturally this plunges the family into conflict. Revelations, twists and turns come thick and fast as the novel hurtles towards its climax.

To explain any more would give too much away, so I will leave you to make up your own minds. If you can cope with the challenging language and themes there is much to get out of this novel.

* * * * *
Source: Librarything Early Reviewiers. To explore on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Island at the End of the World by Sam Taylor, Faber paperback.

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