Archive for January, 2013

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

HobbitTitle: The Hobbit

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Date Finished: 19/01/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely brilliant

I had two different feelings about reading this book – one the one hand, I was very excited as everyone has raved so much about The Hobbit and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  On the other hand, I feared I may not like it and would struggle to love it when so many others already do.

However, this was not a problem – I ADORED it!  It was absolutely brilliant and totally worth all the fuss people make about it.

The plot was so riveting and at some points I physically couldn’t put it down. It definitely does what it says on the tin – it is a fantasy adventure and that’s what you get.  I guess if people aren’t really into that kind of genre, they may be put off, but to be honest I would have never said that I particularly like fantasy and yet I loved it.

The way Tolkien describes each event perfectly but doesn’t linger too long makes it really readable and encourages you to keep going, as another adventure is always just around the corner.  Considering this is my first ever venture into Tolkien’s work, I found it all very easy to follow and now can’t wait to start The Lord of the Rings (hopefully this summer).

The characterisation is amazing!  Bilbo is obviously unforgettable and Gandalf and Gollum are pretty unique too.  The real strength in terms of characterisation, I think, is that all the more minor characters are well-crafted and intricate too.  Tolkien always explains and describes the elves, dwarves, goblins and the rest, especially their own traditions and ways which makes it very easy to picture them all.

The setting is great too and I love having maps in the book.  These definitely help us feel like we’re going on the journey with them all too!  All the different places the gang visits jump right out of the page and I know this will continue in The Lord of the Rings too.

This book is definitely a new favourite of mine and I will put it on my re-read list pronto, but I do intend to wait until long after I’ve finished the whole LOTR trilogy before re-reading.  I have heard that the film is absolutely amazing and I hope I find time to go and see it soon (if not I will buy the DVD anyway).  Lots of bloggers have raved about The Hobbit and this all just leaves me with one question: “does anyone NOT love The Hobbit?!”

The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz

The House of SilkTitle: The House of Silk

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Date Finished: 13/1/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : No

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

I can’t claim to have read a huge amount of Sherlock Holmes stories – only a couple from the first two books and a few on audiobook, but nevertheless I really enjoy the stories and this book was great.

I didn’t know whether to expect a modern setting, such as the Sherlock TV program on BBC1 (which I very much enjoyed) or a Victorian setting like the original books.  It is written exactly like Conan-Doyle and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between this and the originals.  (This is a good thing).

The plot is the stand-out point in this particular Holmes novel – really unlike any I’ve read before.  I loved the intertwining of the two different mysteries and there was plenty to keep me guessing all the way to the end, which is a very important thing in a detective story.

The reason I said that the plot is the stand-out and not the characters is only because we know the characters already!  All our usual friends are there: Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, Mrs Hudson etc.  Horowitz has done very well indeed to capture them all so accurately.  The new characters in this novel fit in well with the usual heroes and villains we are accustomed to in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

I do love the London setting and the diary style from the viewpoint of Watson.  This style is truly unique and is just another one of the things that make Sherlock Holmes novels so popular.  I feel inspired to read more of the stories, as I have barely made a dent in the massive selection that exist!  I will be reading The Hound of the Baskervilles soon for The Classics Club, but I definitely want to buy some of the other collections of stories and find a time to read them.

If you normally like Holmes novels then this is definitely another one to add to your list.  However, if you want to start reading the stories for the first time, I would recommend starting with the first collection and coming to this a bit later, as there isn’t much explanation of who people are etc.

Villette – Charlotte Brontë

villetteTitle: Villette

Author: Charlotte Brontë

Date Finished: 06/01/13

Re-Read? : First time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Literary Classics & The Classics Club

Overall: 4/5 – rather good

Wow.  A very very powerful book, I think.
I started reading Villette just before Christmas, about the 20th December, I seem to remember, so it feels like it took me forever.  In reality it only took just over 2 weeks but that time between Christmas NYE etc seems much longer than it really is.  Anyway, I am very proud of myself because yesterday this was the book I read for The Classics Club readathon – since then I went from page 472 to 657 so I was very pleased.  It really helps to start the new term without a massive classic hanging over me – I have lots of January exams and probably won’t have that much reading time any more.

The plot in Villette is pretty unique; at least, I haven’t read anything like it before.  Jane Eyre, of course, is the only book that seems to come close, but even that is significantly different – only the style of Charlotte’s writing and some of the typical situations are similar.  I can’t say I loved this book (I only gave 4/5) but I did really enjoy it.  I wasn’t particularly happy with the ending (don’t worry I won’t do spoilers) and now and again the long-depressive-thoughts bits seemed to drag.  Overall, I enjoyed the plot but it definitely didn’t hook me the way Jane Eyre did…although was it actually meant to…?

The characters (in my opinion) are the strongest asset of Villette.  Ok, many are a little unrealistic and annoying, but I feel like I won’t forget them in a long while.  Particularly Lucy (of course), Madame Beck and Graham Bretton.  I have to say I love the (almost Dickensian) way that characters from earlier in the book manage to pop back up coincidentally.  Unfortunately, there were several times when reading Villette where I got the wrong end of the stick; at one point I genuinely though M. Paul and M. Emanuel were two different people!  This is the main reason it is going straight onto my re-read list – now that I understand what’s actually going on, I think I can enjoy it even more next time.

I LOVED the setting in France and adored the French used throughout (warning: don’t read this if French annoys you!) as it really transports you to the setting.  The prose is, naturally, amazing and surprisingly not too difficult to read, especially when something exciting is happening.  This was the kind of book that you need to sit yourself down with and have a big long read – dipping in and out sparsely doesn’t really work…which is why it was so perfect for the readathon!

Like I have said, I didn’t give Villette 5/5 as I can’t say I loved it, but I do think it could easily become a 5 when I re-read it.  I would definitely recommend it as a classic to read for us all, but not more than Jane Eyre – it is less accessible, I find.  However, a really great adaptation (film or TV) would be great, I reckon.  It’s a shame that it lies in J.E’s shadow – most people who I told I was reading this hadn’t even heard of it.  I now understand what people mean when they say Lucy Snowe is such a “question mark“.  She certainly is!
I hope you all enjoyed the readathon and will participate in the next one too!  They really are a great way of reading with people all around the world and making a good dent in big books, even if you can’t commit to all 24 hours (I managed about 15 awake but most of them weren’t actually spend reading!)

Let me know your thoughts on Villette too – I haven’t come across many posts on it so far.

2012 Wrap-Up & 2013 Plans

Well what an amazing year 2012 has been, both in terms of reading and non-reading.  Back in January and February, I was inspired to start my own book blog and I officially began in March 2012.  Since then, I have (pretty much) kept this blog going even when I was very busy/not reading much, which I am proud of.  I enjoyed holidays to Vienna, Majorca and of course the amazing Olympics.  There was the French Open, Wimbledon, Euro 2012 along with the US Open which was definitely my favourite sporting event (aside from the Olympics) as Andy Murray finally won and Laura Robson exploded onto the professional women’s tennis scene.  My exams and all the hard work really paid off when I got my results at the end of August and I have embraced sixth form life since I began in September as well.  The Classics Club started and has grown massively and the book-blogosphere has continued to expand.

What a load of great things; 2013 has a lot to live up to!

I have several reading goals for 2013:

  • 1: Better my 2012 books total.  I read 34 books in 2012 so that means I need to read at least 3 books a month to better it.  Ideally I would like to read 4 books a month, but that is not always possible, especially as many of the books I read are quite long and take me a while!
  • 2: Better my 2012 pages total.  I read 14070 pages in 2012 so that means I need to read an average of 1173 pages a month to better.  Maybe I should aim for at least 1200 pages a month to make it a nice round easy target…
  • 3: Spend at least 30 minutes a day reading.  Now this may seem quite a small amount, but during busy school time 30 minutes is very long!  I want this to be 30 straight minutes with no checking the internet, watching TV etc at the same time.
  • 4: Keep up my science reading.  I get some science magazines through school, which I don’t blog about, but I have decided to try and read at least 1 science book every 2 months.  Hopefully this target won’t be that hard to meet.
  • 5: Keep up my classics reading.  I have been pretty good this year about sticking to this (8 classics in 10 months) but I want to make sure I still read at least one classic every month, even though I know this can be hard with classics being so long and taking much longer than ‘normal’ books to read.  Also, I need to do a Classics Club review very soon where I add some more titles to my list!
  • 5: Stay an active blogger.  By this I mean post about almost every book I read; continue to read other blogs; participate in challenges and events; reply to comments and comment myself.  My main blogging goal however is to read some new blogs, as there are so many people signed up to The Classics Club now and I very rarely end up reading posts by people I don’t know!

I hope you agree with my goals (feel free to suggest more or prompt if you feel I am not fulfilling them)!  I will probably look back over them as I do my monthly wrap-ups and hopefully I will find that I am sticking to them.

Classics Club Readathon January 2013

The next thing I need to talk about is the first Classics Club Readathon which is taking place this weekend.  For us in the UK it is actually from 1.00 pm on Saturday to 1.00 pm on Sunday, but I am probably going to be reading on off all weekend as much as possible, as I am pretty busy with revision and other things at the moment!  I really hope you can join us, as a whole load of bloggers all reading together at the same time is a pretty amazing experience.  It’s times like these that we have to appreciate the internet and the international connections it allows us to make!

I think I will still chug away with Villette for the readathon, as I never really enjoy having more than one book on the go at once!  I have been reading Villette since mid-December and I am about 2/3 of the way through.  I would really like to get as much read as possible before I go back to school on Monday!
After Villette, I have planned The Hobbit, The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz and Pride and Prejudice for January.  I feel this may be slightly ambitious if I don’t rush through all of these, but I can still hope!  In December I only read 2 books and no classics, so I need to up my game if I am to stick to all my new goals!

I really hope you all have a great 2013 that is full of books and reading and feel free to link up your yearly wrap-up or 2013 goals posts in the comments here, as I would love to see what you have got planned, especially if you are reading this and you don’t think I have come across your blog yet!

End of Year Book Survey: 2012

Book Survey 2012Jamie is hosting the End of Year Book Survey again and I thought I would have a go this year, as it seemed a good way of reflecting on all the amazing books I have read in 2012.  My own quick wrap-up and goals for next year will follow shortly, I expect, but for now….

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? 

I read several books in 2012 that I awarded 5/5 to but my absolute best book of 2012 has to be To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.   Yes, it was a re-read, but it is my favourite book of all time and was amazing this year as well!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I read The Great Gatsby back in January before I started book blogging and was expecting great things from it – so many people study it, I thought it must be really good.  However, I couldn’t get into it and I was relieved that it was so short!  I did put it on my re-read list though, as I assume I missed something.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

I was very surprised (in a good way) with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: I didn’t know what to expect from this book but it was so amazingly intricate and imaginative that it quickly became a firm favourite of mine.

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

I am going to split this one: the book I recommended most to book bloggers, I think is a tie between To Kill a Mockingbird and Cloud Atlas.  Secondly, the book I recommended most to non-bookish people was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, as I thought them a great series for non-readers to enjoy reading with.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

I didn’t really discover many new series, which is a shame; 2012 seems to be a year where I read a lot more standalones and classics compared to normal where I really enjoy reading series.  I hope in 2013 I will read more of the series I have already started over the past few years.
I did discover The Hunger Games for the first time and also I enjoyed re-reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Well, I could ramble on this one!  I definitely enjoyed my first Jane Austen (Emma) and my first Stella Gibbons (Cold Comfort Farm).  I also discovered that I love Simon Singh‘s way of writing about maths/science too when I read Fermat’s Last Theorem in October.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I wouldn’t say this is out of my comfort zone, but in 2012 I did start reading science/maths novels for the firs time so I guess that counts (again Singh’s Fermat’s Last Theorem and E=mc² by David Bodanis).  Also I read my first books in French – Harry Potter 1 and Fantastic Mr Fox, which was totally new but great.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

I could say either book 1 0r 2 but I will go for book 2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – I just couldn’t put it down at all.

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

I try not to re-read books within 18 months of their first reading so here are the 2012 books that I put straight on my re-read list: The Great Gatsby, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dracula, Cloud Atlas.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

Well a lot of the books I read had really nice covers but here are my favourites:


Great Expectations


11. Most memorable character in 2012? 

I think this would have to be Lisbeth Salander from Larsson’s books; who is more unique and interesting than Lisbeth?

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

I think I would go with David Copperfield by Charles Dickens for this – amazing writing by Dickens.  (My second choice would be Great Expectations anyway, so good on you Charles!)

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 

I will say To Kill a Mockingbird again, as I just loved it and liked all the characters and felt as though I really knew them. 

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 

This is one is definitely The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: everyone went crazy about this book a couple of years ago, so when I saw it in a charity shop in summer 2011 I bought it…then it took me until summer 2012 to read it!  Although, I do quite like the tradition I seem to have developed of Dan Brown as summer reading…

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read.  One does not love breathing.”  16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?”    Scout Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.  Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”     Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

The longest was David Copperfield at a whopping 1263 pages!! The shortest was Fatastique Maître Renard at only 118 pages.  Numerically, my average book length was about 400 pages, which is pretty good, I think.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

There were definitely lots of gruesome and upsetting scenes in The Kite Runner, which was the first book I read this year (before I started book blogging).

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

I think that the relationship between Clare and Henry in The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is very unique and also very touching and changes and develops throughout the book.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

The Kalahari Typing School For Men by Alexander McCall Smith was definitely the highlight of January 2012: I adore those books and I am very sad that I haven’t read one since then (I have all the way up to book 10 on my TBR shelf, they just haven’t come around yet).  Watch out for lots more of AMcCS in 2013!

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Lots of the classics I’ve read this year have been due to various bloggers and lists on websites, but there are some books that I was bought by my friends: And This is True by Emily Mackie, The Shadow of the Wind by Carol Ruiz Zafón, Submarine by Joe Dunthorne and The Crow Road by Iain Banks.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?

Well, I only started book blogging this year so any book blogs are new to me!  I love them all and I am going to try and be a bit more proactive and discover some more in 2013.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 

Oh um maybe my review of Great Expectations where I rave about re-reading as well.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

Some of my non-bookish posts had lots of discussions – notably my posts about my exams, results and holidays; I think it’s important to share other parts of our lives too.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

I can remember discussing why books in translation or books in other languages aren’t as popular over at Amanda’s blog.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I don’t think there are many book blogger events in England?  And probably none outside of London so I haven’t been to any, however The Classics Club is definitely a main feature of the book blogging world that I am proud to be a member of.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?

For me, it would have to be the 1st March 2012 – the day I wrote my first post on adamsbibliomania!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My most popular posts by views are often those that people come across when searching on the internet, for example The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.  My most popular post in terms of comments and activity was my original sign-up to The Classics Club.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Actually my Reading Habits post didn’t seem to get read much…maybe it was a bit text-dense or something.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Definitely the new Penguin English Library books this year – very addictive and attractive!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I wanted to read a classic a month after signing up to The Classics Club in March and in 10 months I have read 8.  That’s not too bad and it’s only November and December that I didn’t manage.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Oh so many!  But I am halfway through Villette so I am determined to finish that in 2013.  Also I really need to read The Hobbit.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

I’m really looking forward to loads of books in 2013: Pride and Prejudice, more AMcCS…

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

I really just want to improve – so that means do better than last year!  Who knows if this is a possibility or not with my heavier workload in sixth form etc but I think 35 books in the year is a good target to have 🙂