December 31, 2009

2009 - My Favourites

These lists have taken a lot of thought, I have been pondering them for a few days now as I have read all of your lists - each one has added another book to my list! These books are not necessarily literary masterpieces - they are the books I have enjoyed reading the most this year - the ones that have stayed with me and the ones I would recommend in a heartbeat as great reads. As I have compiled the lists I have been really happy to see that a few Australian authors are represented - I am ashamed to say that I have previously stayed away from my local authors - a mistake that I won't be making in the future.
I have decided to take a leaf from Simon's blog and write two lists for my favourite reads from 2009 - my ten favourites published in 2009 and my ten favourites published prior to this. I have included links to my full reviews if you would like to check them out and a key thought from my original review to give you an idea of what I was thinking about it at the time.

Favourites Published in 2009:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of The Pie - Alan Bradley - The actual mystery plot was neither here nor there for me - I just cared about hearing more from Falvia about her adventures! I am pleased to hear that Alan Bradley has at least 2 more Flavia books on the horizon - can't wait!! A pure delight to read - I only wish those other books were out now!

The Lost Life - Steven Carroll - This book is simply gorgeous - I read it over two nights but could have finished it quicker if I didn't need sleep! A quote on the back of the book from The Australian newspaper declares this "A writer worth cherishing. His prose is unfailingly assured, lyrical, poised" - I could not possibly put it better myself.

Brooklyn - Colm Toibin - The writing flowed beautifully - I really felt as though I was sitting down with a good friend listening to the story of their life. I will definitely be looking out for more of Toibin's work.

Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout - If you enjoy brilliantly written books centred on character development and introspection than this is novel for you - just wonderful. I will be thinking about Olive for a long time to come.

The Taste of Sorrow - Jude Morgan - I found the writing throughout absolutely stunning - without wanting to sound cliched - the writing was like a beautiful piece of music - it flowed and carried you along with it.

Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel - I have to say I am very, very impressed! This is my first Mantel read but if this is indicative of her writing style in general and her connection to her characters and the story she creates I will be reading others.

The Glass Room - Simon Mawer - The narrative of this novel flows beautifully and I felt that the way that the author captured, described and demonstrated the many different relationships (including different characters relationships with the house) within the novel showed an amazing capability for understanding people and their motives - and just how complex these are.

Lovesong - Alex Miller - There is a lot of pain and tragedy to their story - I was completely absorbed in this - it felt real and honest and even though it had the potential to be quite melodramatic this didn't happen.

Howards End is On The Landing - Susan Hill - I really enjoyed being a part of Hill's reading world and I was sorry it had to come to an end. Maybe there will be a sequel??

Valley of Grace - Marion Halligan - I would recommend this book if you enjoy reading about characters inner lives - their thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears. I loved this one and would love to see a sequel developed as well so I could follow the characters some more.

Favourites Published Before 2009:

44 Scotland Street - Alexander McCall Smith - I loved this book completely - totally gorgeous is how I would describe it! I'm already on to the sequel - Espresso Tales.

The History of Love - Nicole Krauss - I have to join in and echo Claire's (and many others) thoughts about this book - it is simply stunning. As I was reading it I was actually trying to find flaws in it because I thought a book just cannot be this good - every word and sentence was perfectly placed and constructed - and yet nothing seemed forced or contrived.

I Capture The Castle - Dodie Smith - My only sad point is that there is no follow up to I Capture The Castle - I would have liked to have read about Cassandra as she continued to grow into adulthood - although maybe that would ruin the magic...

Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates - This book is extremely powerful – the language, the scenes, the relationships and the choices the characters make, even the moments of silence and contemplation all hold you – you aren’t going anywhere once you have started this book.

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice has never been my favourite Austen novel - don't get me wrong, I still love it, I have just never connected with Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy the way so many other readers have. Having said that though, I really enjoyed reading the book this time around

The Making of a Marchioness - Frances Hodgson Burnett - The storyline, the writing style, the detailed descriptions of fashions and scenes and the characters themselves (in particularly Emily) all enchanted me - there is no other way to describe my reaction to this book - I was completely enchanted and charmed by the whole thing!

Almost French - Sarah Turnbull - Almost French was a book I was always going to be drawn to - although I think I enjoyed reading it even more the second time after having now been to Paris (however briefly!) myself.

The Art of the Engine Driver - Steven Carroll - The Art Of The Engine Driver felt seamless to me - the writing, the story and the characters just flowed. I didn't want the story to end but at the same time I just couldn't stop reading it.

Affinity - Sarah Waters - The writing is evocative and enticing - I felt like I was walking through Victorian London, particularly the scenes set in the prison which felt disturbingly real at times.

Wanting - Richard Flanagan - Wanting is a haunting book - there is really no other way for me to describe my reading of it. I felt mesmerised by the story being played out in front of me and the characters that were playing it out.

Such fantastic reading in 2009 - I can't wait to see what 2010 will bring!

December 30, 2009

A Study in Scarlet - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

After recently watching the new Sherlock Holmes movie I was motivated to start reading some of the books. The movie whetted my appetite for the characters of Holmes and Watson but I had a feeling that the literature versions would suit me even more. So many of you gave me good advice about where to start with the Holmes books and I followed along and chose the first book, A Study in Scarlet to begin my Holmes reading. My partner and I were lucky enough to receive a Borders gift voucher for Christmas from a very clever relative so we splurged and bought The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes - a gorgeous hard cover book although a little heavy to carry around on a daily basis so I did my reading of A Study in Scarlet at night in bed.

The book introduces not only the characters of Holmes and Watson but also their relationship with each other - I admit it was hard to get Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law's faces out of my head while reading but I think I did manage to create my own versions of these very famous characters.

As someone who is extremely dense when it comes to mystery novels I am always amazed by authors in this genre and the imagination and intelligence they display in creating their plots. I am thankful for the work of the author in this case as he has Watson and Holmes clearly explain their thoughts and actions at the end of the mystery for the benefit of the reader. I realise that some people might find this extremely annoying but I found it helpful and it increased my enjoyment of the book. Is this a style that occurs all through the Holmes books and stories??

I really enjoyed this short book - I thought it was a great introduction to the characters and the world of Sherlock Holmes. I am so glad I have purchased the whole collection because I know I will be reading more of these.

December 29, 2009

I Couldn't Help Myself...

Ok - I admit that I have bought another two new books - but I needed them, truly! Today was my first day back at work after my Christmas break and it was pretty rough - the only thing getting me through the day was the thought of a trip to my favourite independent bookshop in a local suburb at the end of the day - and it worked - it cheered me up! I think one of my resolutions for the new year should be working out strategies for coping with bad days at work that don't involve buying new books - my bank balance will thank me!
So, the books I did come home with were;

Changing My Mind - Zadie Smith - This is an absolutely stunning book to look at - hard cover with a gorgeous and yet simple cover design. I think a book of essays by a smart, female writer who I admire is just what I will be needing over the next few weeks as I settle back into the working world.

A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Reasons We Can't Stop Reading Jane Austen - Susannah Carson (Ed) - I have been admiring this book for quite a while now and it was a big reason why I went to the particular bookshop I did this afternoon - I was pretty sure they would have a copy waiting for me. I now have to decide whether I jump into it straight away or save it for the possible sequel to the Everything Austen Challenge in 2010??

December 28, 2009

Beautiful Classics

I don't usually receive a lot of books as gifts at Christmas - my friends and family are too fearful that they will get me a book that I already have or have read - or that they will get me something that I don't like at all. So, when we hit the shops for the post Christmas sales today I did treat myself to a couple of "Christmas Gift" books.

I couldn't go past these beautiful hard cover Penguin Classics editions of Great Expectations and Jane Eyre. I am planning on making 2010 my year of reading and re-reading Dickens so I felt that I could justify the purchase of Great Expectations and Jane Eyre was actually half price so really it was just begging to come home with me...

December 27, 2009

Sherlock Holmes - Movie

Tonight my partner and I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. It certainly was an action packed adventure!
I thought Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law played wonderful parts but my favourite actor had to be Rachel McAdams - she was just great as Holmes' "muse". It would have been great to see more of her - but I guess this would not have supported the Holmes/Watson storyline.
Having never read any of the Sherlock Holmes book I had no literary reference to compare the movie too - so while I enjoyed the movie as a stand alone action adventure through the streets of London I'm not sure that I have been shown the "true" Sherlock Holmes?? The action itself was fast paced but I felt the plot was a little lacking in substance - I did find myself feeling a little bored when the upteenth action scene came on screen. Is this how it is in the books?
I would really love to move onto the literary Holmes from here - can anyone offer any suggestions on good places to start?

December 25, 2009

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Having never read A Christmas Carol I had decided that 2009 was the year to change this and my partner helped by buying me this beautiful edition of the book as a Christmas present.

I was familiar with the basic story line of the book, nasty, mean natured, Christmas hating Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future one Christmas Eve. What the ghosts/spirits show to him over the course of this night convince him to change his ways and take the Christmas spirit into his life.

It sounds like such a simple concept, and in many ways it is, but I am struck by how many levels this book has and I can see I could read it over and over again and take something different away from it each time.

I am normally hesitant to read books with illustrations as I feel they can sometimes create alternate images to the ones you may have in your head for particular characters or scenes but I felt the gorgeous illustrations in this edition of the book complimented the story, and my imagination, perfectly.

I want to concentrate on reading more Charles Dickens during 2010 so this is a great way to start I think, a book to treasure into the future - there will be no "Bah, Humbug" here!

December 22, 2009

The Making of a Marchioness - Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Making of a Marchioness was given to me by the very insightful Sarah as part of the Persephone Secret Santa gift swap this year.

Just reading the description of the book on the Persephone site was enough to let me know I would most likely be enjoying this one greatly;

Part I, the original Marchioness, is in the Cinderella (and Miss Pettigrew) tradition, while Part II, called The Methods of Lady Walderhurst, is an absorbing melodrama; most novels end 'and they lived happily ever after' but this one develops into a realistic commentary on late-Victorian marriage. 'Delightful... A sparky sense of humour combined with lively social commentary make this a joy to read' wrote the Bookseller. Kate Saunders told Open Book listeners that she was up until two in the morning finishing this 'wildly romantic tale whose hero and heroine are totally unromantic' (Daily Telegraph); the Guardian referred to 'a touch of Edith Wharton's stern unsentimentality'; the Spectator wrote about the novel's 'singular charm'; and the Daily Mail stressed the 'sharp observations in this charming tale.'

I have not as yet read The Secret Garden (sad I know!) so this was my first experience of Hodgson Burnett's writing - and I loved it. The storyline, the writing style, the detailed descriptions of fashions and scenes and the characters themselves (in particularly Emily) all enchanted me - there is no other way to describe my reaction to this book - I was completely enchanted and charmed by the whole thing!

My only problem now is that I don't know what to read next to follow such an amazing book! Can anyone offer any suggestions? Also, what Persephone do you think I should order next?

Thank you so much Sarah - an excellent choice!

December 21, 2009

Howards End is on the Landing - Susan Hill

Howards End is on the Landing has been written about by many bloggers since its release - some have loved it and others, not so much. I fall very much in the former category - I really, really enjoyed this book and wandering through the book shelves and piles of Susan Hill. True, the content and set up of the book was very different to what I initially thought it would be. As others have stated, they thought (as did I) that the premise of the book would be Hill discussing her "year of reading from home" project - we would follow her through her reads one by one as she dissected and analysed her reading of each book. The actual book is a little different to this - Hill seems to have no clear path or guidelines for the structure - we are taken down random memories and stories connected to certain authors and books that have been a part of her reading life as a whole.

I certainly don't agree with a few of Hill's views - she isn't a fan of Jane Austen to begin with so that would create a huge rip in our reading friendship - but I love hearing about her views and opinions even if I don't share them all. One of Hill's favourite writers is Virginia Woolf and I particularly liked the sections of the book where she discussed Woolf's life and her writing.

My major disappointment with this book is that it did not go on for longer - I really enjoyed being a part of Hill's reading world and I was sorry it had to come to an end. Maybe there will be a sequel??

December 20, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice was my sixth, and final, item for The Everything Austen Challenge. I was not planning to re-read this book during the challenge but on a recent trip to a favourite Sydney bookshop I came across the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of the book with these stunning cover drawings by Ruben Toledo - it just had to come home with me and then it just had to be read.

Pride and Prejudice has never been my favourite Austen novel - don't get me wrong, I still love it, I have just never connected with Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy the way so many other readers have. Having said that though, I really enjoyed reading the book this time around (not sure if it had anything to do with the gorgeous cover attached to it!). I think it is the case that whenever we re-read our favourite authors work we gain something different from the reading depending upon the time in our life when we are reading it and what is happening in our own world at that particular time - what do others think about this?
I have really enjoyed this challenge - it has given me a chance to re-connect with some Austen favourites as well as discovering some of the new and ever growing Austen spin-offs - thank you so much to Stephanie for organising such a fun challenge.

December 19, 2009

Birthday Books

As promised a run down of the books I received for my Birthday...

My wonderful partner took me out to lunch and then book shopping where I managed to be quite reserved for me and picked up these two:

A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth, I do actually already have a copy of this book but I just couldn't resist this absolutely gorgeous hard cover edition released by W&N publishers - the photo does not do this book justice. I thought that seeing as though this book is going to be my major reading project for 2010 I deserved a beautiful book to be reading!

A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Toltz, I have seen this book around for so long now but was never sure if it would be the book for me or not but then I read a column by one of my favourite Australian journalists, Leigh Sales, describing it as a book that reminded her of why she loved reading and I thought I should definitely give it a go. Has anyone read this one?

Another book I received was a gift from one of my best friends, Now is the Time by Patrick Lindsay - I just love the description of this one;
Now is the time... to stop the world ... to enjoy the rain be curious sing find peace. It's a much-proven adage that it's never too late to do all those things for ourselves that we keep meaning to do, but put off because of other distractions or busy-ness. Patrick Lindsay shows us in inspirational and farreaching, yet practical, ways how it's never too late to make a change. Or learn something new. With a thought per page, coupled with inspirational quotes, NOW IS THE TIME will inspire you to look at your life anew, and help you to plan towards regaining balance, finding strength and taking that first step.

December 18, 2009

I Like the Sound of 35...

Today is my 35th Birthday. This is a milestone for me because I spent the majority of my 20's dreading turning 30 and becoming "old"! I therefore spent a lot of time bemoaning the fact that I was getting older in age and not actually noticing what I was gaining with those years - wisdom, beautiful memories and experiences and most of all, a growing acceptance of who I am and what I want from my life. Looking back I can see that turning 30 was one of the greatest moments of my life and my thirties as a whole have been fantastic! I am especially looking forward to being 35 for a year - I think it sounds like a great number.
I also love Birthdays - mine and other peoples - and I was duly spoilt today with beautiful presents, cards and calls from my partner and friends. My wonderful partner gave me some of my favourite Harrods Tea (yes, he discovered a place to buy it in Australia!), a beautiful Royal Albert tea cup, saucer and plate and a gift voucher for a local spa - all very loved and appreciated.

One of my friends also made a surprise visit to deliver a gorgeous bunch of flowers - how beautiful are these?
I also picked up some wonderful new books but more about those tomorrow...

December 17, 2009


As my fifth item (only one to go!) for the Everything Austen Challenge I chose to re-watch one of my favourite movie adaptations of Austen's novel Persuasion (my absolute favourite Austen novel). The version is the 2007 ITV production starring Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot and Rupert Penry -Jones as Captain Frederick Wentworth (how handsome is this man??!!).
Apart from liking this movie in its own right it also has a special connection for me as when we were in Bath in 2007 I was able to see an exhibition of costumes and other items from the movie at The Jane Austen Centre.
I agree with some other reviewers in various locations around the web that this movie is not without its flaws - it certainly strays from Austen's original novel in many ways but even though this is my favourite book of hers I really don't have a problem with this movie changing some things around a little. I think the movie remains true to the essence of the story and the relationship of Anne and Captain Wentworth. I think Sally Hawkins is a delightful Anne - even if she does sob and gasp a little too much for my liking in places! She is delicate and strong at the same time (I particularly like the scene in Bath towards the end when she stands up to her snobby father!)and she captures and portrays the history of her relationship with Captain Wentworth in her mannerisms and words perfectly for me.

December 16, 2009

Book Bloggers Holiday Swap - Presents Galore!

For the first time I participated in the Book Blogger Holiday Swap this year. I do love giving and receiving presents but I also love the new connections that are made when gifts are swapped.

I picked up my parcel from the post office this morning and I was very excited to see that my gift had come all the way from Canada (a country I have never been to but would definitely love to one day as my best friend has been there and raves about it!) and from Karen at Sassymonkey Reads - who was also the blogger I was santa for!

Karen sent me some beautiful gifts as you can see in the photo above; a funny Christmas card with the most adorable puppies, a box of cinnamon mints which made the whole package smell wonderfully christmassy when I opened it, The Underpainter by Canadian author Jane Urquhart and the most amazingly cool bookmark I have ever seen (you can see it just sticking out of the top of the book in the photo with the jewel section that is attached to it at the bottom of the photo).

Karen thank you so much for all of my wonderful gifts - they are beautiful and I appreciate the thought and effort you have taken in sending them to me. I am especially excited about the book as I have not read any of Urquhart's writing before but I love reading books that have anything to do with art and I am actually thinking about joining in The Art History Challenge next year so this will be perfect. I also love your idea of sending a book by a writer from your home country - I wish I had thought of that!!

Happy Holidays!!

December 14, 2009

Persephone Secret Santa

The discovery of Persephone Books has been a new delight to my reading and book collecting this year so I was very excited to join in Stacy's Persephone Secret Santa to help share the joy and add to my own small but ever growing collection.
I was very excited to receive my Persephone package in the mail a little while ago and I did manage to hold out a couple of days before tearing open the gorgeous pink wrapping to unveil The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett from the very thoughtful Sarah at What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate.
Sarah wrote in her card accompanying the book that after reading over my blog she thought this book would be one that I would enjoy. I haven't actually read it yet but I think you have made the perfect choice for me Sarah - just by reading the extract from the book in its front cover and from the description on the Persephone web site (which likens it to Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day in tone) tells me I am going to love it. Thank you for taking so much care and thought with your selection - I love my new Persephone!
Happy "grey" Christmas everyone!

December 13, 2009

Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

I had read/heard lots about Cold Comfort Farm (not really sure where now) so when I saw one of the new Popular Penguin editions of the book a while ago I snapped it up. I wasn't really sure what to expect from the book - although I knew it was an English novel written in the 193o's and that was enough for me to give it a go. My edition of the book also has an introduction written by Lynne Truss - which I saved to read until after I had read the actual book (and which I did find helpful at that point).

Cold Comfort Farm starts with an introduction to our leading lady;

The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living.

And so begins Flora's predicament - either stay in her beloved, social London, find a flat of her own and a job to support herself - or move to some far flung part of the countryside to live with distant relatives previously unknown to her. Much to my surprise (but thankfully for the plot of the novel) Flora moves to Cold Comfort farm in Sussex to live with relatives of her mothers - the Starkadders.

It is here that the novel takes its comic turn because the Starkadders are both ridiculous and hilarious at the same time and the interaction they have with city girl Flora has some very funny results and altercations. It did take me a while to pick up the intended tone of the novel, Flora swoops in determined to alter for the better her country cousins and while I did find her actions funny I also felt a little resentful of her nature - what right did she have to decide she was in the right and the Starkadders were the lost and hopeless ones?? I got to grips with the book in the end though and did end up enjoying it for the most part - Gibbons does tend to describe a lot of the landscape in her book and while I know this is necessary to set the scene, a little too much of it and I become a bit bored! Some very funny scenes though - this might be one I have to come back to in the future to fully appreciate.

December 12, 2009

Pride & Prejudice - Marvel Graphic Novel

It was my partner who discovered Pride and Prejudice - Marvel Graphic Novel on a recent trip to one of our favourite bookshops in Sydney - I thought he was pointing it out for me but he actually wanted to buy it for himself. I know I am getting close to him reading an original Jane Austen novel!
I still "borrowed" the book from his collection to make up my fourth selection for the Everything Austen Challenge. I found this version of Pride and Prejudice delightful - if a little slimmed down and cut back to fit into the graphic novel genre. I found the visual representations of the characters pretty close to how I might imagine a slightly more modern version of Austen's creations (although I felt Mrs Bennet got a bit of a bad deal!).
I wouldn't have wanted this to be my introduction to the Pride and Prejudice story - so much has had to be tightened up or left out that even though the essence of the story is still in tact something is lost. All in all though a beautiful, if different, trip down Austen lane.

December 11, 2009

The Book of Tomorrow - Cecelia Ahern

As I have written before, I'm not really sure what made me pick this book up in the first place. I was less than impressed by the author's last novel but for some reason I still found myself in a bookshop handing over my hard earned cash for her latest offering - it is indeed the silly season!

The Book of Tomorrow centres around 16 (almost 17) year old Tamara who with her mother is forced to move from her high society life in Dublin to living in the countryside with her less than promising aunt and uncle following the sudden death of her father. Tamara's mother is consumed by grief and is pretty much a non-existent presence in the book but Tamara manages to run into plenty of other characters to spend her time with, Marcus the mobile library hottie, Sister Ignatius the beekeeping nun who lives nearby, Aunt Rosaleen and Uncle Arthur, various adolescents from the local area and a mysterious hidden person living in the house next door. A lot of characters but very little substance unfortunately. The book of tomorrow of the title refers to an old fashioned book that Tamara borrows from the mobile library that is more than it first appears - it is obviously meant to be the crux of the plot but I found it to be quite contrived and silly.

I am not sure if the author was meaning to write an adult or adolescent novel here - even though the main character is only 16 herself there are some adult themes explored. The book is definitely readable and I was probably prepared to give it a go right up until the last 60 pages or so where the conclusion of the book completely lost the plot for me - it felt rushed and predictable with the consequences of certain actions unexplored or unexplained.

Glad to have finished this one now!

December 09, 2009

Corduroy Mansions - Alexander McCall Smith

2009 has been a bit of an Alexander McCall Smith year for me - I discovered his Scotland Street series earlier in the year and devoured the books in that collection quite quickly. When I saw Corduroy Mansions had been published I was very excited - I could continue my obsession!

Corduroy Mansions is pretty much just an English version of the Scotland Street novels. A lot of the characters seem similar in stereotypes and ways - and yet they retain their own individual quirks and traits as well. I fluctuated when reading this novel between finding the sameness and similarities in character design annoying and boring and then finding it comforting and safe - which is sometimes just what I am looking for in my reading. I picked up the new Alexander McCall Smith novel because I knew what I would be getting - and he didn't disappoint me in this regard.

The Corduroy Mansions of the title is a block of flats in the London area of Pimlico and the chapters focus around the various residents of the building as we as their numerous acquaintances and relatives. Unlike the Scotland Street series there wasn't a character like young Bertie who really stood out for me as a favourite and it was probably this fact that was most disappointing about the novel for me - there was no one character that I genuinely cared about. Apart from this though there were a great selection of characters to follow - the style of McCall Smith's writing and the way he structures his chapters means that if you are bored with one particular story line another one comes along very quickly to entertain you.

The sequel to Corduroy Mansions, The Dog Who Came in From The Cold, is currently being published online and I have tried to give it a go - but unfortunately it just isn't holding the same appeal for me. Maybe I will need to wait until it is published in book form...

December 07, 2009

End of Year Reading Plans

I have been going through a rough reading patch of late. I think it is connected to the end of year rush and buzz - there is so much going on around me that I am finding it difficult to settle down with one book and just read! Is anyone else experiencing this?
I am starting to get so frustrated with myself that I have decided to create an end of year reading plan in the hope that I will stick to it and get some books finished as opposed to starting a new book every ten minutes as my reading mood sways! That way I can start 2010 with a clean slate (or bedside table as the case may be). Books that I am currently reading at the moment and that I would like to finish before the end of the year are:

The Lacuna - Barbara Kingsolver - I have been looking forward to the release of this book for a while now and when I discovered it included the character of Frida Kahlo (one of my favourite artists) I was hoping it would be a book I would love as much as one of Kingsolver's best known books - The Poisonwood Bible. It started a little slowly for me but I am now really getting into it.

Fever Pitch - Nick Hornby - This is the book that my partner and I are reading together as part of our "Bookclub for Two" idea. I have started this one and am really enjoying Hornby's humour and writing style - it's just not a book I am jumping to get back into at this stage for some reason. However, my copy of the book is due back at the library by the 18th December so I would like to have it finished by then.

Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons - I had bought a copy of this books ages ago now after hearing good things about it (can't remember where though??). I picked it up on the weekend when I couldn't decide what I really wanted to read and have now read over 100 pages.

The Book of Tomorrow - Cecelia Ahern - This book so typifies my reading mood at the moment - I really did not like Ahern's last book, Thanks for the Memories, at all and yet I still went out and bought this one when I was in the mood for something light to read. I have to admit that I am thinking it is actually not too bad at the moment - not great but definitely more readable than the last one for me.
There are many other books I would like to finish before the end of the year but if I can get through these ones, as well as finishing my reading/watching for The Everything Austen Challenge, I will be happy!