Monday, 14 November 2011

The Moving Finger

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie and read by James Saxon...

I really enjoyed listening to the twists and turns within this Miss Marple mystery although in the novel she appears a lot less than she does in the BBC version starring Joan Hickson...

The sheer spitefulness of these malicious and venomous poison pen letters soon disturbs the peace and tranquility of this quiet English backwater... but beneath the surface there are depths of emotion just waiting to be revealed.

I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone who has not read the book, but two horrible murders are committed using the poison pen letters as a screen to hide behind.

The narrator telling the story is a young man called Jerry Burton who moves into a rented house with his sister Joanna.  He is recovering from a flying accident and has been told to go to live somewhere quiet to aid his recuperation.

While he becomes friends with the local doctor and helps the police to find the killer and author of the letters, he falls in love with the strange girlish step daughter of the local solicitor, whose wife has supposedly commited suicide, and initially, she refuses his offer of marriage.

Unfortunately for me...  I was listening to the book on a rather scratched library audio book and the story had bounced, stuttered and jumped through 5 CD's...  On the 6th CD it was pretty much okay until Chapter 19 where I discover who the murderer is, who the author of the letters was, and the rescue of the damsel in distress...  I am about to find out if the guy got the girl or not... when ... sputtering and making a nasty scratchy noise the CD ground to a halt...  argh!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Accidental Genius... meets Focus...

I have just finished listening to Accidental Genius by Mark Levy which I downloaded from Audible...

I have been reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and am finding it inspiring in so many ways but as I wrote my morning pages... I find myself writing more than 3 pages... then I found myself wanting to look into other ways of working on freewriting...

On searching Amazon, I came across Accidental Genius and decided on the audio book...  I enjoy listening to books as well as reading them.  

The book was set out in 3 different sections, the first section was about 6 basic guidelines for freewriting, try easy, write fast and continuously, setting a time limit, writing my thoughts as they come to me, creating with the thoughts, then redirecting my attention and looking at my thoughts in a different way.  

The second section goes into refining the process...

But chapter 27 in the third section really caught my attention.  It is where Mr Levy talks about making a list of everything that has ever fascinated me...  to work on the list in my freewriting... to think about the list for several days...  to investigate anything I have ever felt passionate about...  or still feel passionate about...

This dovetails beautifully with the other book I am listening to at the moment, Focus by Steven Covey...  in this audio book of one of the Franklin Covey Focus Workshops, they state that for us to be able to really focus on and succeed in setting goals, it is essential that these goals are based on our own values...  what we truly believe in...  this idea comes from Benjamin Franklin's autobiography where at the age of 27 whilst feeling dissatisfied, he took time to reflect and came up with 12 virtues that he wanted to learn to live his life by...  Franklin's book is available for free download from Amazon for Kindle...  

So I am now working on a list of things that fascinate me, so that I can look at any themes that run through these passions of mine, past and present, to enable me to decide what my true values are...  Yes, I could easily come up with values that just come to my mind, but I want to work out what feel most true to me and my personality, so I am going to freewrite and work on my list and in a few days, I shall work through the list to decide what is most important to me...  What the themes have been throughout my life...  What gives me most joy in life...  What makes me feel inspired just thinking about it...

Monday, 31 October 2011

Mostly True...

I ordered Mostly True by Brian Andreas on a whim...  it arrived today...  I read it in about an hour...

Then I found myself picking it up and reading it again...  then flicking through it and reading the short and pictorial stories as they flashed by...

I think it is an enlightening book.  I love his short stories that he calls mostly true from his life but with some fantasy elements added in... and the reader can work out which while reading...

"A few said they'd be
horses.  Most said they'd 
be some sort of cat.
My friend said she'd 
like to come back as a

I don't like crowds,
she said."

Porcupine by Brian Andreas

This is not a long book and I read it initially very quickly, but it is a book that will live in the lounge on my coffee table so that when I relax with a cup of tea and want to see life through a very different kaleidoscope I shall pick it up and read the first pages that I open...  

Thursday, 8 September 2011

On my Birthday... A Kindle...

I have never known if I wanted an ereader...  I have always loved my books.  Everything about them.  I love the touch of the paper.  I love holding them.  Flicking through to see what is going to happen when I cannot bear to read further.  Flicking back to remind myself of something that has happened earlier in the story.  The beautiful cover art.   I would read blog posts about ebooks and ereaders with curiosity and mild scepticism that a gadget could give me what I love about books.  How, I thought to myself could an ereader take the part of my beautiful shelves full of books?

Not wanting to fall behind with technology... I decided that I wanted a kindle for my birthday.  I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about.   Initially, a few months ago, I downloaded the kindle for Mac so that I could see if I would like reading books in the kindle format.  I found I enjoyed the format but didn't really want the books clogging up my MacBook and that it was time for a kindle.

The kindle arrived.  Quickly followed by a beautiful green leather cover with a light in the corner.  The light is perfect for reading a night without disturbing Neil.

My kindle is beautiful and perfect.  I carry it everywhere.  It went over with me on the Belfast to Liverpool ferry.  It came back with me on a flight from Gatwick to Belfast.  While wandering around Gatwick, I bought a bottle of water and relaxed reading my kindle.  Horror of horrors... I didn't even go into to the WHSmith bookshop (a regular and rather heavy haunt of mine on previous journeys).

I love love love it.

I have had fun choosing books to put onto my kindle.  Lots of old favourites are free.  Others like the complete works of Thomas Hardy were only a couple of pounds.  In a few seconds I had downloaded the complete works.  Some of which I had previously spent years trawling around second hand bookshops looking for out of print less popular novels that he had written.

I cannot believe it... but I even find myself thinking about getting rid of classics that I have owned for a couple of decades... now that I have them downloaded onto my kindle.  I find myself thinking about how useful the space would be.

I do not know how this gadget has made such an impact on me in a little under a fortnight.  Since its arrival my view of books has been turned on its head.  I can see that for novels and information gathering this is amazing.  I can also see that it will not replace everything.  It wouldn't be so successful for me (even if it were in colour) for the beautiful knitting, patchwork, gardening or art books that I own.  With these types of books I love the large glossy colourful images which inspire and influence me.

I love the fact that I can sit in a public place... reading a children's book like The Enchanted Castle or a textbook... (or whispering this one... a self help book) and no one around me knows what I am reading.  For all the inquisitive passerby knows... I am reading Crime and Punishment...

Instapaper allows me to find an interesting article on a blog or a newspaper or a website and mark it Read Later and periodically it downloads all the articles to my kindle in the format of a downloaded newspaper for me to read at my leisure.

Oh... and did I mention... the gorgeous apple green leather cover?

This gadget is so impressive that my mum has also become the proud new owner of a kindle (hers arrived on Tuesday).

So... have I found anything that annoys me about my new kindle?  The only thing that frustrates me at this point is that I cannot yet buy all the books that I would like to read in the kindle format...

I want books kindalised...

No longer will I go on holiday barely able to lift my suitcase off the floor because I have 10 heavy books weighing it down.  Now I can carry one kindle weighing about the same as one paperback in my handbag...  The freedom is exhilarating.

Now I can relax in a coffee shop with 100+ books in my handbag.  It is extraordinary.  It is magical.

And what am I reading at the moment?  The Complete Father Brown Mysteries...

Sunday, 17 July 2011

In My Mailbox (3)...

The wonderful In My Mailbox meme run by the Story Siren which really appeals to me...

This weeks books thankfully retrieved from the Blue Bin... and a browsing trip around Bargain Books...

I know I have eclectic tastes and my book choices run through all sorts of genres and age groups but I hate to be pigeonholed and love to read everything from romance to fantasy, fiction and non-fiction...  I am not so good with really scary horror though...

The Iron King
by Julie Kagawa

A modern novel this time and another that I have read glowing reviews about...

"Meghan Chase has a secret destiny - one she could never have imagined...

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six.  She has never quite fitted in at school... or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar and her little brother is taken, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

She could never have guessed the truth.  Meghan is the daughter or a faery king and a pawn in a deadly war.  Now Meghan will have to choose between a normal life and her magical destiny - and between her best friend and a darkly dangerous prince.  

It's time for Meghan to enter the faery world..."

Death in the Cotswolds
by Rebecca Tope

Oh I do love a good murder mystery...

"Thea Osborne is thanking her lucky stars.  After two disastrous housesitting incidents in which she unwittingly became embroiled in murder and mayhem, she is only too happy to have a bit of time to concentrate on her blossoming relationship with DI Phil Hollis.  The couple has retreated to Phil's late aunt's cottage in Cold Aston, and other than the odd interruption from his childhood acquaintance, the eccentric Ariadne, they look forward to some peace and quiet.

But the bad luck that plagues the hapless Thea and her beloved spaniel Hepzibah is never far away.  With Autumn drawing in, preparations for Samhain, the pagan origin of Halloween, are well underway when Ariadne discovers a very tangible reminder of the season of death:  a body laid out like a sacrificial victim on Notgrove Barrow.

It soon becomes apparent that the cosy village has more than its share of secrets.  But just how far will some go to keep them hidden?"

The Kalevala
Translated by Keith Bosley

I started reading an extract from this very long epic poem on the web and just couldn't stop so I went looking for this book online...  It is a rather longer epic poem than I had realised...

"The Kalevala is the great Finnish epic which, like the Iliad and Odyssey, grew out of a rich oral tradition with prehistoric roots.  During the first millennium of our era, speakers of the Uralic languages (outside the Indo European group) who had settled in the Baltic region developed an oral poetry that was to last into the nineteenth century.  This poetry provided the basis of the Kalevala, assembled by the Finnish scholar Elias Lonnrot and published in its final form in 1849.  It played a central role in the process toward Finnish independence and inspired some of the greatest music of Sibelius.

This translation of the Kalevala... by the poet Keith Bosley... is the first to combine liveliness with accuracy in a way that reflects the richness of the original."

Sunday, 10 July 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

My second week taking part in the In My Mailbox meme run by the Story Siren which is such fun.

Delivered to the door by my ever friendly postman...

I know I have eclectic tastes and my book choices run through all sorts of genres...  This week:

A tale of Redwall by Brian Jacques

Oh so cool... how have I never come across this book before... rodents!!!

"As Redwall Abbey's creatures bask in the glorious Summer fo the Late Rose, all is quiet and peaceful.  But not for long.  Cluny the Scourge is coming! And the evil one-eyed rat warlord is prepared to do bloody battle to get exactly what he wants:  Redwall."

The Phoenix and the Carpet
by E. Nesbit

Oh a trip down memory lane with this one...

"The Phoenix and the Carpet is E. Nesbit's second fantasy novel and is the sequel to Five Children and It.  From Robert, Anthea, Jane and Cyril's new nursery carpet there falls a mysterious egg which is hatched in the fire to reveal a benevolent, resourceful and ingenious Phoenix who explains that the carpet is possessed of magic qualities.  And so begins a series of fantastic and bizarre adventures as the carpet transports the children and the Phoenix to places as diverse as a chilling French castle, a desert island and even the Phoenix Fire Insurance Company's offices, which the Phoenix believes to be a shrine for his followers."

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

A modern novel this time.  I have read such thrilling reviews, about this book and the whole series, on blogs that I couldn't resist reading the first instalment any longer...

"Winning will make you famous.  Losing means certain death.  In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking pace.  Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games.  There is only one rule:  kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place int eh games, she sees it as a death sentence.  But Katniss has been close to death before.  For her, survival is second nature."

What Happened to Goodbye
by Sarah Dessen

I think this will be an interesting read... different to my usual choices...  This is the first book I have read by Sarah Dessen and I am looking forward to the experience.

"Mclean never lets herself get too attached...

After the scandal of her mother's affair, Mclean and her dad chose life on the road.  But since losing her family and home, Mclean has lost herself too; she's been Eliza, then Lisbet, then Beth - changing her name as often as she changes towns.

Until now.  Her neighbour, Dave, is like no one she's met before.  It's as if she's always known him, and just like that, she becomes Mclean again.  Is it finally time to stop reinventing?  Or will Mclean turn her back on the new life she loves, without even saying goodbye..."

Happy Reading...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Dog Days...

What Animal-related books have I read?
Which do I love?
Do I have a favourite literary dog?

This has ended up as a rather long list of wonderful books...  I hadn't realised just how many animal characters I have really loved reading about over the years.  Some are real.  Some are toys who become real or real who become toys.  Some are magical in some way.  Some are cartoons.  But all I have truly adored.  I thought I should probably divide them into groups but they are in no order of preference.


The Wild Road (and the sequels in the series) by Gabriel King
Its a Magical World - Hobbes - Bill Watterson
Born Free - Joy Adamson
Gobbolino the Witch's Cat - Ursula Williams
The Cat in the Hat - Dr Seuss
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats - T S Eliot
Garfield Whatever - Jim Davis
Adolphus Tips - Michael Morpurgo

Horses & Unicorns

Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
The Little White Horse - Elizabeth Goudge
The Last Unicorn - Peter S Beagle
The Black Unicorn - Terry Brooks
Moorland Mousie - Golden Gorse


Grey Friars Bobby - Eleanor Atkinson
Roverandom - J R R Tolkien
Lassie Come Home - Eric Knight
101 Dalmatians - Dodie Smith
The Call of the Wild - Jack London
White Fang - Jack London
The Incredible Journey - Sheila Burnford
Fantastic Mr Fox - Roald Dahl
Peanuts Jubilee - Snoopy - Charles M Shulz

Birds and Flying Beasts

The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark - Jill Tomlinson
The White Dragon (and other Pern books) - Anne McCaffrey
The Ice Dragon - George R R Martin
The Snow Goose - Paul Gallico


The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Graham
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents - Terry Pratchett
Manx Mouse - Paul Gallico
Martin's Mice - Dick King Smith


Watership Down - Richard Adams
Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams
The Brer Rabbit Book - Enid Blyton


Ingo (And the others in the quartet) - Helen Dunmore
Charlottes Web - E B White
The Snow Spider Trilogy - Jenni Nimmo
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Elmer - David McKee
Tarka the Otter - Henry Williamson

With these novels I find that they are often heart wrenching in places and exciting in others.  A few of these books are particular personal favourites that I have read many times Velveteen Rabbit and Brer Rabbit were two of the rabbit stories I loved.  As a child we had many pets, particular favourites of mine were rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, dogs and cats.  

My favourite literary dog is a draw... two very different books, I love Bobby the loyal little dog in Grey Friar's Bobby and I adore Buck the stolen pet who ends up in the Yukon Territory working on a dog Sledge team in Call of the Wild.