I wish that I was better at blogging…


World Book Night

I am very excited about World Book Night.  I’m also a little stumped.  I will have 48 copies of The Blind Assassin to give out in Southampton (as we’re visiting friends that weekend) and I want to gift them to strangers in a flourish of literary love instead of just wandering round trying to get people to take them.  I have, however, no ideas.  I’ll probably just install myself in a pub and hand them out until they’re gone.

Is anyone else a WBN giver?  What are you giving and how are you doing so?

Free books!

Well, it’s January and as usual the first task of the new year was to re-organise my bookcases.  As I work in publishing and live in a one-bed attic flat, this is no mean feat, but I have been completely ruthless with myself and have sent three large bags of books to the charity shop round the corner.  Still, my four bookcases are entirely chock-a-block – thank goodness that I got a Kindle for Christmas, which should reduce my acquisition of physical books, at least a little.

During my book rampage I found duplicate copies of three of my all-time favourite Hodder & Stoughton books.  The duplicates are different editions, but space constraints mean that I can’t justify keeping them – so I want to share them with you.  I’ll send one of the books to the first three people to comment (please specify in your comment if you want a particular book – first come, first served).  Make sure that you include your email address so that I can email you to ask for your postal address.

The books are:

1. The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly.  Signed hardback edition.

2. The City of Thieves, David Benioff.  1st edition paperback.

3. The Poison Tree, Erin Kelly.  Proof copy.


I had set aside today to re-read what I’ve written so far of my novel, decide if it’s salvageable, and plan my next steps.  It’s 4pm and I have done nothing but eat soup and faff on t’interpipes.  Why am I procrastinating so?  I WANT to write this novel, so why aren’t I?  I’m a little bit daunted at the prospect of re-reading everything that I wrote, and I’m a bit scared that it’s all going to be awful.  But it might not be.  I won’t know until I bloody knuckle down and read the damn thing.  As soon as I post this entry, I’m opening the first chapter.  I am.  I AM.

This evening, I have been mostly…

…baking quite a lot of sugar cookies…

…knitting a teeny tiny baby sock…

…and debating the student fees issue with two of my best friends.  There is so much in the media about it at the moment that I don’t really know what’s true or not, but I do think that it’s such an incredibly complex issue that it’s always going to cause controversy.  I personally believe that higher education is a right, but one that you have to earn.  By that I mean that finance, social class, age, or any such factors should not prohibit anyone from going to university, but entrance to a degree should be earned through hard work and good grades.  We’ve become a society that expects degrees for many jobs that would be much better prepared for through vocational training or good old experience and that teaches young people that university is the next logical step after school.  University is not for everyone, and a society that thinks that it is runs into trouble – like higher education becoming too expensive for it to be accessible to those that want to continue their learning.  Knowledge is so important that it should always be available, but it should also be respected.  I don’t really know where this leaves me on the issue of the impending university fees, except to say that something definitely needs to change.

Books I loved in 2010

Ten books that I read and loved in 2010, not in any particular order, not necessarily published this year (some not even published yet).

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

Ghostwritten – David Mitchell

White Cat – Holly Black

The Passage – Justin Cronin

American Wife – Curtis Sittenfeld

The Silent Land – Graham Joyce

Sisters Red – Jackson Pearce

The Gate at the Stairs – Lorrie Moore

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Room – Emma Donaghue

This has been the year that I have “discovered” (or learnt to appreciate) YA and crossover fiction.  Having said that, I’ve been reading a lot of books for younger readers as research for my new role, and I’m now itching to get back to something that challenges me a bit more.  I’ve read some fantastic books by amazing YA authors, such as Lauren Oliver and Laini Taylor, but I can’t pretend that they’ve not been a bit of a brain-holiday.  I’ve had a lot going in the latter half of this year and I think that my reading has reflected that.

I’ve become a more accepting reader this year.  At university, I used to dismiss certain genres out of hand, but I’ve since learnt that I can enjoy books from genres that I wouldn’t have thought that I would as long as they’re fantastically written.  I just can’t forgive bad writing.  I think that’s why I don’t read a lot of crime or any chick lit – the readers of that genre want different things from a book than I do (namely, plot driven pace that often sacrifices characterisation, sense, and good prose), so the majority of the books deliver what the fans want, which makes sense.  People often think that I won’t read crime, which isn’t true, I’m just wary of it because the mass of the genre doesn’t appeal.  Erin Kelly’s The Poison Tree is a crime novel that absolutely blew me away with the quality of the prose and the zeitgeist that it captured.  Similarly, I don’t think that I’ve ever read a sci-fi novel, but that’s not to say that I never will – I’m just waiting for one that might meet my exacting standards…  I’m less of a literary snob than I was at the start of the year, but I still demand quality from the novels that I read.

What have you read and loved this year?

‘Tis the season

And now that it’s 1st December, it really is.  All those humbugs who’ve been intent on dampening my Christmas spirit for the last week of November can pop a mince pie in it, because the first door is open on the advent calendar and it is now officially okay to be merry.

My enthusiasm for Christmas can vary from year to year, but this is definitely a year when I’m full of Christmas cheer.  My gift knitting is well underway, my spreadsheet of presents and recipients isn’t looking too daunting, and I have a shopping day planned.  I am Organised and it is Good.