Sunday, 30 August 2009

Twenties Girl- Sophie Kinsella

I don't really enjoy fluffy romance type chicklit as much as I used to so wasn't sure what I would think of this, but it was a quick read (read it in two days), a bit of a twist with the ghost story interweaved with family drama and of course a bit of a love story. I liked the 1920's references too, always a fan of books set in 1920's or 1950's if anyone knows of any ....

I think my next book will be Wuthering Heights as I want to watch the ITV adaptation of it (sky +ing it).

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Marked- PC and Kristin Cast

I felt I needed real pure escapism and therefore decided to try this vampyre book-think Twilight, crossed with Sweet Valley High, crossed with the naughtiness of Jilly Cooper and you are just about there.

This is the first in a series of books, the 'House of Night' series, and is aimed very much at older teenagers, I would say 14+.

I feel like I have enjoyed it, and it is certainly an easy read, but perhaps I am really too old to be reading it! I am still going to read the next book in the series though-I expect I will take it on holiday with me.

I have also been dipping in and out of a few other books, Mister Teacher by Jack Sheffield and a few non fic parenting books.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife-Audrey Niffenegger

Have just finished this in anticipation of going to see the film at some point soon (it is released today).

Whilst it was not a 'perfect' book for me, it was definitely one that tugged on the heart strings. If you haven't read it and you plan to-DON'T READ ANY FURTHER!

I found the scene where he was in the Art Institute with Alba totally heartbreaking-what I wouldn't give for just one memorable moment with my own Dad,and if i got to give him that hug, no teacher would dare to try and stop me. Funnily enough, I worked out that Alba would have been 5 years and 3 months when Henry died-only one month different to how old I was when my own Dad died. Although of course she has the pleasure of spending time with him even after his death, albeit, in an abnormal way.

The love story between Henry and Clare could have been a bit weird in that he goes back and sees her from when she is 6 years old, but thinking about it, I would love to go and meet my husband at 6 years old and see how different he was then!

The miscarriages and Clare's longing for a baby are also a painful read, despite knowing from comments about how Clare is 'plump in 2001' that she will eventually have her much longed for baby.

Henry's death is also difficult to read-first mentioned from Clare's perspective when she realises it is a 'bad day', then from Henry's when he 'knows how it happens', and finally as it actually happens.

The end of the book makes me just want to cling on to my beautiful husband and child and never let them go-if only we all knew we would get just a moment longer.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Correspondence with Jack Sheffield

My message.....


Having just read 'Teacher, Teacher', I felt that I needed to write to you to let you know the impact that it has had on me.

I am a nursery nurse at a reasonably large inner city school in Sheffield, and work in the nursery with 3-4 year olds. I have been feeling rather flat lately, I have been in the same role for coming on five years, and although I enjoy parts of my job (working with parents and building up links with the families, phonics-thankfully I don't have to do numeracy as we work on a team based teaching!, the amazing things teh kids say) I feel like things have gone somewhat stale.

Reading your book has reminded me that working with children is such an honour-people are entrusting us to educate, shape and mould their child. I think I needed that kick to remind myself of that.

Unfortunately, I don't go back until 7th September-ridiculously long summer this time- so I only hope that your words will stay with me until then.

Thank you for helping me see that it is hard work but worth it.


And the reply....

Hello Kate,
Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed Teacher, Teacher! and that it had such an impact on you.
You may be interested to know that the follow-up novels, Mister Teacher and Dear Teacher, are curently in Waterstone's and that early next year the fourth in the series, Village Teacher, will be published.
If you have time to write a brief review on either the Waterstone's or Amazon websites this will help to spread the word of my novels. Either way, I am grateful to you for supporting my writing.
I note you work in a Sheffield school - I've just been invited to take part in the Sheffield Off the Shelf Literary Festival at Crystal Peaks Library on the afternoon of 20th October.
Enjoy your well-earned holiday and very best of luck in your teaching. I hope your career proves as rewarding as mine turned out to be - from your comments, I'm sure it will.
Best wishes and happy reading,
Jack Sheffield

Teacher, Teacher-Jack Sheffield

This book was on the 'what our staff are reading' shelf at the local Waterstones, and having picked it up, read the prologue and wanting to buy it there and then, I reined myself in and put a hold on it at the library.

Jack Sheffield has based his books around his time as a headteacher in a small village school in Yorkshire during the 1970's. I imagine that the books are a mixture of fact, nostalgic 'what if's' and fiction to make it more exciting to the reader (the books are described as novels) , but I found myself laughing and crying at this book (the chapter Dance with your Eyes-honestly, I was in floods of tears).

I wonder if part of its appeal to me is that I work in a school, and so I can think of stories which would fit with life at Ragley and really relate to them.

However, my request for the most recent book in the series from the library showed that there are 14 holds on it, so obviously Jack Sheffield appeals to a wide audience. Maybe the simpler life is what appeals, maybe the romance of nostalgia, maybe the 'characters'...but there is something about this book that has left an impression on me, and has even made me think about what I can offer in my job role.

Working with young children is an honour, and that is something that we who work in schools often take for granted. Jack Sheffield has reminded me of that. I even emailed him via his site to thank him for it!

13 Little Blue Envelopes- Maureen Johnson

Oh, how I adore teen books! I know that some people think that they have little literary value and that they can't really offer much to the adult reader,but I completely disagree. Not only does it make you think about what life is like during that limbo period of adolescence, but a lot of books aimed at teens don't try to be clever, or wordy, or something that they are not.

I got this recommendation from 'Book Lust' I think, or if not there then it was certainly another 'book about books'. At the time it was only out in America, but now it has been published in the UK too.

This book is all about Gin, who is left 13 little blue envelopes by her dead aunt Peg. The envelopes give Gin instructions to follow and lead her on an adventure across Europe.

It is a short read and I found it was the sort of book that made me want to just run away and explore!!!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Enid Blyton- Barbara Stoney

Yes, I got this out of the library after being tempted by it! It was in the reserve stock and has stickers on it saying that if it gets spoilt there will be a large fine, I think perhaps I will tell them that it has been back in print for the past few years, as I expect that it was because it was so hard to get hold of that they are so precious about it.

I remembered bits of it from reading it previously, and I get swept away by the beautiful houses that Blyton lived in...I want to live in the country!

I do think it was worthwhile reading this and the Duncan McLaren book close together, there are very few books about Blyton really so it was good to have them to compare.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Old Man and the Sea- Ernest Hemingway

I finished this yesterday and, I hate to say it, I was really quite underwhelmed. It had been hyped up so much, and it was recommended to me, and the fact it was only 98 pages made me think that it was worth a go, but sadly, it wasn't what I expected.

It should have been called 'The Old Man and the Fish', as that was what it was about. I might be a bit naive, but I thought it would be less about the act of killing the fish, and more about how he dealt with life on the sea. Admittedly, there was some of that (and those bits I didn't mind, and the bits focussing on his relationship with 'the boy'), but for me it was too much about fishing, teh brutality of fishing etc.

Sometimes when I am reading, I wonder if I am seriously missing something, and I wondered about that reading this.

Anyway, I am glad I tried it as we went to Hemingway's birthplace in Oak Park in Chicago a few years back and I had vowed to read some of his work. So at least I did what I said I would!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Birthing House-Christopher Ransom


Well, I am 160 pages in and seriously considering giving up on this. Lots of people I know, who like similar books to me, said it was tosh, and I have to admit I am not really enjoying it and I don't know whether to persevere or not. There is a load of sexual stuff that is not necessary, and the storyline (which sounded OK from the blurb) is weak, the writing is poor...oh dear! It is due back at the library on Friday and has holds on it so it will cost me to keep it past then, and I don't think I am willing to pay to keep it. Infact, I think I have made up my mind!

Also, my library classified this as horror, and whilst it is a bit creepy, I wouldn't class it as horror, only the horrific storyline, horrific writing.....

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Looking for Enid- Duncan McLaren

I finished this today, and it was an interesting selection of theories, but my word, the man is a bit strange in his overboard fanaticism! This book was based on fact (mainly from the Barbara Stoney autobiography, which I have read previously but now want to reread!), and hypotheses from the authors (overactive?) imagination. I am not poo-pooing it, but it seemed like a lot of speculation, some of which I agreed with and some which I thought 'how on earth did you get that idea?!

I guess my next book will be The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom as it needs to go back to the library on Friday. Lots of people I know have read it and it has had quite a lot of negative reviews to be honest, so I am not sure what I will think of it. Guess there is only one way to find out!

I also cracked and ordered some books off Amazon, I am considering applying to do a midwifery qualification and so ordered some different books that are memoirs of midwives both in the Uk and America- we will see if it inspires me!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

One Red Paperclip-Kyle McDonald

I have just finished One Red Paperclip by Kyle McDonald, the true story of the man who traded a paperclip for a house. OK, it took 14 swaps, not just one (that would be ridiculous), but it was a novel read, didn't take much concentration and had me giggling out load in parts. I guess I will be putting my copy on bookmooch at some point soon, when I actually get around to it.

By the way, I am still reading Round Ireland with a Fridge at bedtime, but have also started a book about Enid Blyton, it is by Duncan someone or other, and is slightly strange. The man is truly obsessive!

I saw a book today that I am now lusting after, I cant remember who it is by, but it is called Love, Aubrey and looks like an interesting one. Me thinks it might go on the birthday wishlist.....