Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Disappointed or Exceeded Expectations

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme held over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week we are listing our top ten books that we thought we would like more or less than we did. Interesting topic! Here are my picks:

Books I Was Expecting More From…

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1) The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

I am a huge Stephen King fan and bought this book a few years back. I took it with me on holiday as it’s only a thin book. However it took me ages to read it and I just found it boring! The ending I found really disappointing too. It’s the only King book I’ve ever read and not liked.

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2) The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

As a huge Potter fan I was disappointed with this book. It was probably my own fault though as it was never marketed as being similar to Harry Potter. My full review is here.

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3) Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

I still don’t really understand what I didn’t like about this book. It has everything that I would like but I just couldn’t get into it!

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4) The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I remember seeing the description of this and falling in love with it. I love stories that use food this adds magical properties. I think it was the writing style that got me this time. I just didn’t like it.

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5) The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

I rushed to the library to find this book. Victorian gothic? Yes please! The start of the novel was very slow going though and I ended up giving up.

 

Books That Exceeded Expectations…

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1) The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas

It’s difficult choosing a book to take to a festival. I have to take one for late night reading in my tent before I go to sleep. It has to be not too thick, interesting enough to keep me occupied on the train but not so interesting that it makes me want to sit on my own and read it all week! This book ticked the boxes. It was a brilliant read though and my train journey (from Liverpool to the Isle of Wight!) sped by.

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2) Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green

This was an impulse buy that sat on my shelf for a while before I read it. It’s not my usual kind of story at all. I adored it though. I’ve become a huge fan of novels written from a young child’s perspective.

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3) Room by Emma Donoghue

Similar to the one above really! Everyone raved about this book but I wasn’t sure. I got hold of a copy and it sat on my bookshelves for ages. When I did finally get to it, I read it within a couple of days.

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4) The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

The good thing about the library is that you can pick up books that you would probably never buy but look vaguely interesting. If you don’t like it you can take it back and you’ve not lost anything! I’ve always looked at Cecelia Ahern novels as boring chick lit. Let me tell you though that if this is chick lit then I’ve been misinformed about quality!

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5) When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman

Another library book! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and used it in the recommendation  part of my interview for my Christmas job at Waterstones 2 years ago!

Thats all! I probably could have come up with a lot more than ten books here. Novels are constantly surprising me. The two things I’ve learnt are:

1) If you don’t like a book then stop reading it! I used to commit myself to struggle through a book if I’d started it. I now know not to!

2) Try anything. If there’s a book that looks interesting but you don’t usually like that genre/author then try it anyway!

Are there any novels that you thought you’d like more or were disappointed in?

 

Top Ten Tuesday (rewind!) – Top Ten Childhood Favourites

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme ran by The Broke and the Bookish. I always felt like I’d missed out on loads of good top ten Tuesday topics having started so late so this week’s theme is a brilliant one. This week we can choose any of the past topics we like. I’ve chosen the Top Ten Childhood Favourites as reading was a huge part of my childhood. This was maybe the easiest top ten list I’ve ever written.

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1) The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

Probably my all time favourite book when I was younger. Enid Blyton is a classic children’s author and I was enthralled with her different lands at the top of the magical tree!

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2) The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This had to be on everybody’s list. I’ve never met a child who disliked this book.

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3) The Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling

I’ve probably said enough about this series whilst this blog has been going. I was addicted to it when I was younger (down to queuing for the final installment dressed in a cloak and wand!). I still love it now in fact!

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4) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

I loved the first few books in this series when I was younger. Unfortunately they can’t have been that great as I never got any further!

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5) The Borrowers by Mary Norton

These little guys used to fascinate me! I read this book so many times that the cover fell off. I think I’ve still got it somewhere actually!

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6) Matilda – Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was by far my favourite author when I was younger and Matilda was my favourite character. I always thought of her as similar to me because she was addicted to reading like I was.

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7) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

Owning a chocolate factory was every child’s dream. There was more to this book than that though. Willy Wonka was an extremely disturbing character and this book is quite dark when you think about it!

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8) Northern Lights – Philip Pullman

I remember being absorbed in this for a few weeks when I was at high school. I used to carry it around with me constantly and read it whenever I got a chance.

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9) The Witches by Roald Dahl

Yep another Roald Dahl book! This was another of my favourites that I reread over and over again.

309336110) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Another of my favourite series’ from my childhood. As you can tell, I was obsessed with fantasy and magic!

What were your favourite childhood books?

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

040213_0955_TopTenTuesd1.jpgTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme held over at the Broke and the Bookish where each week we list our top ten of a certain topic which is always book based! This week’s topic is the “top ten books I read before I was a blogger”. I haven’t been a blogger for very long so this is a very easy list for me!

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1) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I think this will always be my favourite book. I’m sorry that it seems to be on my top ten list every week but I can’t help it! It’s a beautiful love story and is so much better than any film or tv adaptation.

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2) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Another one that is probably on this list every week! It’s up there at the top of my list of favourite books with Wuthering Heights.

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3) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

I wanted to be more specific than just saying “the Harry Potter series” but I did love them all! The Deathly Hallows had to be my favourite though.

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4) Christine by Stephen King

This was the first Stephen King novel I read and I adored it. I couldn’t put it down at all. We were on a family holiday at the time and I was the most anti-social big sister ever! After this I started reading other Stephen Kings and he is one of my favourite authors.

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5) Mort by Terry Pratchett

Still my favourite of the discworld series and one of the first I read! My favourite discworld novels are all the ones about Death so I also love Hogfather and Reaper Man.

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6) Dead to the World – Charlaine Harris

Eric was always my favourite character in the True Blood series but in this book he is just so loveable! Definitely my favourite True Blood novel.

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7) Room by Emma Donoghue

I read this just before I started blogging and it was an exciting novel for me as it encouraged me to branch out and try new genres! I bought it because everybody was raving about it but I was never really sure if I’d like it. I loved it!

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8) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I read this in about 48 hours when I was ill. I’m pretty sure most people have read it by now but if you haven’t you need to try it! I spent the whole Christmas season working at Waterstones a couple of years ago encouraging people to buy this book for their kids but I still hadn’t read it myself. I’m glad I did!

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9) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I remember staying up really late every night reading this book. The concept drew me in but it sat unread on my shelves for a while. When I finally got around to reading it I couldn’t put it down!

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10) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Definitely my guilty pleasure. I know it’s badly written and that Bella is not a very good female lead. I know that vampires are supposed to be scary and not sparkly. Nevertheless I adored this series and I still do!

What books did you used to like before you were a blogger? Has blogging encouraged you to try different genres?

Top Ten Tuesday – Settings I’d Love to See in Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme run by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Settings You’d Like To See (http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/top-ten-settings-jana-would-like-to-see.html). I only have five of these which probably means I need to expand my horizons a bit!

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1) Old Villages

By this I mean Stonewylde style villages. I love that period of time and the characters being that close to nature.

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2) Hidden Worlds

I love the idea of the book being set in the real world but with a hidden world inside it. This worked really well with JK Rowling’s wizard world.

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3) Totally made up worlds

There is something amazing about fantasy novels where the world is entirely new. It’s something you can emerge yourself in.

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4) France

Particularly little french villages like in Chocolat or Amelie. I’ve never been there but I love reading about the country.

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5) Circus/Carnivals

I read two amazing books set in a circus last year – Water For Elephants and The Night Circus. They both had a magical atmosphere and were really gripping.

What are your favourite settings? Do you have any recommendations for me?

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling – A Quick Review!

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I’ve just finished this book after a whole two months. This is a bad start really as I usually go through a book this length in a week. This is just a quick review with no spoilers and I’m not going to go too in depth.

Firstly let me confess that as I grew up with Harry Potter and slightly idolise JK Rowling, I was always going to try this book. I am currently writing a story which is aimed at a similar aged audience as the later Harry Potter books and I really admire the way she wrote the series, particularly the way she built a whole world from scratch. I never want to be famous like she is (I’d be happy just seeing some of my writing in print) but I do think she is brilliant. That said, I am not going to compare this novel to the Harry Potter series because it can’t be done. This was never meant to be similar to the Potter books and needs to be read and reviewed as a stand alone novel. With that bit over and done with let’s get onto The Casual Vacancy.

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A BIG NOVEL ABOUT A SMALL TOWN …

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

 

 

This book failed to grip me from the very start. I persevered with it hoping it would get better and I found that my interest came and went as the story went on. I loved Pagford and the war with The Fields (the poorer end of the village). It’s the kind of place that always looks perfect but when you get a closer look it never is. With tiny village shops, the school and the community where everyone knows each other, Pagford is the perfect setting for a scandal such as there is in this novel.

However I feel that the characters let this story down. I found it hard to keep track of who was who and there was only really one family in the story that I was interested in. It turned out to be a very important story to the plot but I think focusing more on that part of the story would have made it a better read. I also found the election story line quite boring and not much happened in the first half of the book.

I won’t give anything away but I liked the ending. It was a good climax to the story and made for a more interesting few chapters. I definitely related more to the teenagers in this story and wonder whether it’s because JK Rowling is better at creating unique teenage characters than adults? 

All in all I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would and do not understand the hype surrounding it. However I think fans of this type of novel would maybe enjoy it more. I’ve heard it compared to Joanna Trollope although I have never read any of her books. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t a fan of this type of literature though. I was willing to give a new genre a try but it didn’t really work! I hope JK will branch out into other genres soon.