Monday, December 30, 2013

December Reads

I had great plans to have blog posts up during December but it just never came to be, for one reason or another. So I’m going to post up December’s Reads a few days early, as I doubt very much I’m going to finish any more and because I also hit my goal for the year, read 100 books! It was tight but I just about made it. I’m not sure I’ll be trying for such a big number next year, in fact I doubt I will, but it was fun to try it for once.

I Heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk


I picked this up in London at the end of November/beginning of December. I couldn’t resist, I love the I Heart series and I thought this Christmassy edition would be a great way to kick off December. It follows the further adventures of Angela Clark, English woman living in New York with her husband, her best friend Jenny Lopez and the other usual cast and characters in this series. Angela thinks she’s in for a nice relaxing lead up to Christmas, doing things like ice skating and watching Christmas films, but things don’t go to plan when Angela is thrown into extra responsibilities at work, including a new assistant in the form of her arch enemy, her best friend from England landing unannounced on her doorstep, Jenny in the midst of a baby craze and her husband Alex springing another surprise on her. Probably not my favourite of the I Heart series, though I still really enjoyed it. I love checking in on Angela and co., they’re like old friends!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ReadyPlayerOne RD 1 finals 2

This book has been on my radar for a while but even when I got it out from the library, I was slow to start it. But once I did I was hooked! Set in 2044, the world is a bleak place and many people prefer to live within OASIS, a virtual reality where you have your own avatar and can live, play and go to school on the ten thousand planets. Wade Watts spends most of his life on OASIS and like most people is obsessed with finding the massive prize hidden within the worlds: the fortune left behind by OASIS creator James Halliday. To do so, people must solve a series of puzzles and riddles left behind by Halliday and to do so, Wade and the many others have immersed themselves into the pop culture of 1980s, Halliday’s favourite decade. When Wade finally stumbles across the first of 3 keys, a floodgate opens and suddenly it becomes a rush to solve the clues before something serious could happen to Wade in real life. It was a great novel, I feel people who grow up during the 80s would appreciate a lot of the pop culture references more (seeing as I don’t remember the few years I lived during the 80s) though you don’t have to be a lover of the 80s to love this. It’s a fun idea and unique and I loved it.

Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster

jeneration x

Another of Jen Lancaster’s memoirs. First off, I just love the cover of the book. If you’ve enjoyed previous books by Jen, then you’ll enjoy this. It did make me giggle in places, I love hearing about her life. I did however dislike some of the comments made about Gen Y, but I suppose every generation has something bad to say about the next generation.




The Vogue Factor by Kirstie Clements


 Kirstie Clements made her way from receptionist up to Editor for Vogue Australia, before being fired out of the blue in 2012. This book is a series of stories and events from over the years in Vogue Australia. If you’re hoping for something The Devil Wears Prada or even something that gives an in depth day to day running of Vogue, then you won’t find it here. Instead you’ll find how Kirstie rose through the ranks, stories of different shoots, the changes in Vogue Australia through the years, and some of the events and Fashion Weeks that Kirstie attended over the years. The book didn’t wow me, there was no tell all’s or dirty secrets aired, but I certainly did enjoy the book and would recommend you read it if you like the fashion world. I really did like the insight into what would be for me a lesser known Vogue publication (I’ve only read UK, US and French Vogue). And I did appreciate reading how much hard work it can be working in a) an institution like Vogue and b) a fashion magazine.

Peas and Queues by Sandi Toksvig

peas and queues

This was gifted to my sister for her birthday just before Christmas and I grabbed it to read so I could have it finished before returning back to UK after my break. A modern etiquette and manners book, it is by no means stuffy. I found myself laughing at some of the things Toksvig said (I do so love her on QI). I loved the addition of some word meanings and origins. A lot of it should be common sense (like don’t ever get too drunk) but you know what they say about common sense (it’s the least common of senses). A charming read, though the bits about children didn’t really interest me.


Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements

meet me under the mistletoe

When I saw this at a cheap price for Kindle, I decided to give it a go, as I liked reading I Heart Christmas and decided I wanted to read another light, fluffy, heart warming Christmas read. Laurie and Rachel have drifted apart since being best friends in school. Laurie lives in London, immersed in her design career. Rachel lives in a cottage in Yorkshire, content with raising a family. But when unexpected events happen to both Rachel and Laurie, they find themselves in need of a house swap. How will Laurie find the sleepy Yorkshire village? And will Rachel be able to brave the fast and busy streets of London? The book has several things in common with with film The Holiday, so if you like that film you’ll probably enjoy reading this book. It was a fun read, though there were a few mistakes in my Kindle edition which irked me (Rachel’s son Zak was spelt Zach on at least one occasion and apparently it was Steve Carell and not Will Ferrell that was in Elf). None the less, it’s a light, fast, if not predictable, Christmassy read. I have another Clements book to read and I’m looking forward to reading it after reading this.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander


A short companion book to go with the Harry Potter series, it gives an A-Z list and description of the beasts in the HP series. It’s a nice read to accompany the series but definitely not an essential read. What I liked about the edition is that the proceeds of the book goes towards Comic Relief, a very generous and kind hearted thing for J.K. Rowling to do.




Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones (read by Kirby Heyborne)

jim henson

This book, which I listen to from an download, took me over a month and half to read. It is 1275 minutes long, over 21 hours long! It is definitely an extensive look into Jim Henson’s life, at times I felt it was a little too long and that some of the details weren’t really needed. But I loved it. I especially loved the fact I listened to it, as the narrator Kirby Heyborne put on accents and made it just that little bit more special. I’d listen to it while walking to the library just after I moved to UK and probably looked like a massive goon, grinning ear to ear at something sweet. There’s no doubt that Jim Henson was a special and talented man, who has left an incredible legacy. Brian Jay Jones did a lot of research and interviews for this book, with all the people closest to Jim, which makes it seem extra special. I cried so much at the end, he definitely died too young. A must read if you are a Jim Henson, Muppets or Sesame Street fan.

December Stats

Number of Books Read- 8

Ratio Fiction to non-fiction- 4:4

Books borrowed from library- 1

Number of eBooks- 3

Number of audio books- 1

Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 0

So that’s it! 100 books read. 7/12 Reading Resolutions accomplished. Not bad, but I hope to make another set of Reading Resolutions for 2014 and will stick to finishing them more than hitting a number goal (which I must say became exhausting near the end). It’ll be a bit of a relief next year not to have to hit a number goal, I’m looking forward to reading more at leisure and perhaps tackling the Song of Fire and Ice series. If you’d like to see all I’ve read this year, either click on one of the months below or else click here to see my Year in Goodreads.

January’s Reads

February’s Reads

March Reads

April’s Reads

May’s Reads

June’s Reads

July’s Reads

August’s Reads

September Reads

October’s Reads

November’s Reads

Thursday, December 5, 2013

November’s Reads

A few days late, forgive me! I was in London over the weekend so I knew I wouldn’t get this done for the 1st. And then the moving company arrived Monday (I haven’t really done much unpacking, I’m hoping that if I just leave it there it’ll hop out of the boxes and go into the right place. Wishful thinking).

Anyway, after September and October’s dismissal attempts at finishing books (5 and 3 respectfully), I’m glad to say that November’s back on form. Managed to finish a good chunk of books and catch back up to date with my reading schedule for my 100 book target for 2013.

Death in the City of Light by David King

death in the city of light

This book is the really life story of a serial killer in Nazi Occupied Paris, Dr. Marcel Petiot. It starts with the discovery of body parts burning in a Paris house, with more body parts found in lime pits in the garden. The book then tells the story of Petiot, his early life and how he came to in Paris, right up to him being caught and his trial. While the book does focus a lot on Petiot, I found the story slowed a bit when a few chapters were more about what was happening around Paris at the time and the events in the war. I know this was to show the setting and what it was like there at the time, but it just took the focus off the story of Petiot and his victims. It was an interesting book and I did enjoy reading it but by the end, I was a bit glad it was over so I could start reading something else.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth


I read Divergent, the first book in the series, back in June and when Allegiant was released at the end of October, I decided I better read Insurgent so I could finish the series. This story follows Tris after the events of Divergent, as she discovers more about the world she lives in. Considering the 2nd book of YA dystopian novels can be more filler than thriller, this one is pretty good.




David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell


I really like Gladwell and the previous books of his I’ve read in the past. I find he writes interesting tales. This book is about how underdogs often succeed a lot more than we expect them to. The book is very much short essays and examples set around the same theme. I find it interesting how his books show different ways to look at things. I didn’t enjoy this as much as the other books I’ve read but it was still a good read.




Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Rivers of london

I will admit, I first picked up this book at my aunt’s house, thinking it was actually a book about the rivers of London. How wrong was I?! It is in fact a fiction book set in London and about PC Peter Grant, who one night at the scene of a vicious beheading talks to the only witness- a ghost. Peter gets introduced to DCI Nightingale, who deals with crimes of the magical nature and just so happens to be a wizard. As well as investigating the beheading, Peter must also keep peace between the God of the River Thames, Old Man Thames, and the Goddess of the Thames, Mama Thames, and their children and followers. Often described as urban fantasy, I loved the book and characters and the way Aaronovitch weaves London references throughout the story.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

the book thief

I bought this book from a charity shop back in January as I recognized the title but had no idea what the book is about. The book is set in Nazi Germany and follows the story of Liesel, a 9 year old girl who is sent Himmel Street to foster parents. Before arriving at Himmel Street, Liesel steals her first book. It’s a beautiful story narrated by Death and follows Liesel through the rest of the war and the relationships she builds. I was told by others to expect crying, which I didn’t think would happen, but right at the end it got me. It’s a long book, over 500 pages, but it was a lovely read.


Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

moon over soho

More supernatural and magic crimes in London and it’s up to Apprentice Wizard DC Peter Grant to investigate these strange goings on. After a jazz musician drops dead, Peter finds magic imprinted on the body and decides to investigate other similar deaths and finds himself tracking down ‘Jazz Vampires’, creates feeding off the lives of great musicians. Again steeped with tons of London, I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next in the series! I suggest of course reading Rivers of London first before this book.


The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith

minor adjustment beauty salon

Book number 14 in the No.1 Ladies Detective Series and more tales from Precious Ramotswe and her assistant Grace. This ‘cozy crime’ series is set in Botswana and if you’re looking for hard hitting crime, you won’t find it here. Instead you’ll find Precious investigating the claim from a lawyer that a dead’s man nephew is an impersonator who just wants his farm as well as why the Minor Adjustment Salon is being plagued by rumours. If you like the other books in this series, you’ll probably enjoy this one too.



Shit My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

shit my dad says

Book that follows the Twitter account. When 28 year old Justin is dumped by his girlfriend, he finds himself living back at home. He decides to tweet out quotes from his father, who really does not hold back when it comes to speaking his mind! If you like the Twitter feed then you’ll enjoy this, a quick, light read, it had me crying with laughter at times.



Dodger by Terry Pratchett


I finally picked up a Pratchett book! I went with Dodger, because I like books set in Victorian London. On a stormy night, Dodger the tosher (sewer scavenger) rescues a mysterious girl from a beating. Who is she and why are there people trying to kill her? There’s loads of cameos in this book, from Sweeney Todd to Robert Peel to Charles Dickens himself. The book was ok, I didn’t find it amazing but it was quite enjoyable. Bit slow moving at times if I’m honest. I’ve read it’s nothing like Pratchett’s other more magical books. It hasn’t put me off trying more Pratchett though.


Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

whispers under ground

Third book in the PC Peter Grant series! A suspicious death occurs in a London Underground tunnel of an American student and there’s magical undertones to it. Peter, Nightingale and Lesley investigate this, as well as trying to hunt down ‘The Faceless Man’, a rogue magician. I liked this book in the series as I liked the Underground connection. I also like how Mama Thames’ girls pop up throughout these novels.



Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

broken homes

The most recent book in the PC Peter Grant series. There’s more leads towards the Faceless Man but this is mostly set in a housing estate in Elephant and Castle. I found that being tied to this setting really slowed down the novel and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the rest. Until it got closer to the end and the pace really picked up! It has left me dying for the next book, if anyone knows when it’s out let me know!




Allegiant by Veronica Roth


Finally book in the Divergent series. Again, I don’t want to get into the plot too much, don’t want to give too much away! I did enjoy it, at times it did seem to drag just a tiny bit. I’m not sure if I’m crazy about the ending for the whole series.





November Stats

Number of Books Read- 12

Ratio Fiction to non-fiction- 9:3

Books borrowed from library: 6

Number of eBooks: 3

Number of books from Reading Resolutions: 1 (Dodger)


So 12 books isn’t bad after last month’s 3 books! I’m hoping to hit 100 books by the end of December, after reading 12 last month I’m a bit fatigued and not in the mood for reading but it could just be the book I’m reading at the moment. Fingers crossed I can make 100!

January’s Reads

February’s Reads

March Reads

April’s Reads

May’s Reads

June’s Reads

July’s Reads

August’s Reads

September Reads

October’s Reads

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