Archive for April, 2012

April 30, 2012

Kindle v.s. Spine

My parents got me a Kindle for Christmas and thought my initial excitement was based mostly on a desire to stop carting around the masses and masses of university books which I take everywhere, a fellow book-loving friend was disgusted. I had offended the name of decent book readers everywhere. I was scum, bowing to popular demand. Her disgust was palpable.

Several months have passed since then, and whilst I still feel that her feelings are somewhat unneccessarily vehement, I have come to the following pro and con list for kindle..

Kindle pros

  1. Price- when you can get pretty much all the classics completely free, I’d say that is a good deal
  2. Speed- you can get books instantly whilst you’re sitting in bed sipping tea.
  3. Portability- I travel a lot, and (as previously mentioned) need large university books for studying- the kindle makes this much, much easier and less painful.
Kindle cons
  1. Feel-I miss the feel of reading a book, of holding it open and just devouring it’s contents.
  2. Smell-I miss the smell- Old book or new, the smell of books is amazing.
  3. Magpie-I can’t add the book to my collection.
  4. Spines-I  miss looking at spines on my shelf. The lack of books in my room is just sad
  5. Pride-I like people admiring my literary prowess when I’m on trains and planes. Like yes, I am reading Dostoyevsky, deal with it.
  6. Breaking-I miss breaking in a new book. The moment when you open that first page and the spine makes those thin lines. I miss that.
  7. Emotions-If I read a bad book, the bad emotions related to that book means I don’t like even looking at it. So whether I re
  8. Availability-Not all books exist on the Kindle. Which is frustrating.
  9. Bookshops- Because I have a Kindle, going in to a bookshop and buying an actual book feels a little wasteful-not cool.

The truth is, kindles are practical. They make my rather nomadic lifestyle, my sad bank account, my university work and my reading habits all co-exist in glorious harmony and right now, I have no intention of giving it up. But one day, when I have the money and my own home in which to display my glorious books, I will probably go out and buy the books I most enjoyed on my kindle- just to put them on my shelf. True story.

What are your thoughts?

April 29, 2012

The Forgotten Garden

Goodreads SynopsisCassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace – the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century – Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself. 

My Ramblings: Kate Morton, the author of this book, should by rights be quite proud of this work. However, as much as I try to appreciate it I really can’t. I’ve tried. Maybe it’s just because I’m insanely tired of the heroine who’s had a difficult life storyline. I try to warm to it. I really do, but it has never worked. It’s not that it’s terrificly bad. I think it’s just that after a while, only things that are a little bit different from what I read before really intrigue me. It’s got a little bit of that ‘dark fairytale’ thing going on, mixed in with the careful splicing of different time periods. Whilst I know that this book is much loved by many, it’s really not my cup of tea. It seems to be a bit like marmite- you either love it, or you hate it.

April 28, 2012

Humans have a need to read

I think that most bookworms believe that they would die without books (you won’t I assure you) and before this blog I was suffering from a severe case of bookbimboistitis but I thought it would be interesting to share an article I read in the guardian. The full article can be seen on this link, but I’ve pasted an extract out of it. (Copyright for the following extract- the Guardian and Gail Rebuck)

“Psychologists from Washington University used brain scans to see what happens inside our heads when we read stories. They found that “readers mentally stimulate each new situation encountered in a narrative”. The brain weaves these situations together with experiences from its own life to create a new mental synthesis. Reading a book leaves us with new neural pathways.

The discovery that our brains are physically changed by the experience of reading is something many of us will understand instinctively, as we think back to the way an extraordinary book had a transformative effect on the way we viewed the world. This transformation only takes place when we lose ourselves in a book, abandoning the emotional and mental chatter of the real world. That’s why studies have found this kind of deep reading makes us more empathetic, or as Nicholas Carr puts it in his essay, The Dreams of Readers, “more alert to the inner lives of others”.

This is significant because recent scientific research has also found a dramatic fall in empathy among teenagers in advanced western cultures. We can’t yet be sure why this is happening, but the best hypothesis is that it is the result of their immersion in the internet and the quickfire virtual world it offers. So technology reveals that our brains are being changed by technology, and then offers a potential solution – the book.

Rationally, we know that reading is the foundation stone of all education, and therefore an essential underpinning of the knowledge economy. So reading is – or should be – an aspect of public policy. But perhaps even more significant is its emotional role as the starting point for individual voyages of personal development and pleasure. Books can open up emotional, imaginative and historical landscapes that equal and extend the corridors of the web. They can help create and reinforce our sense of self.

If reading were to decline significantly, it would change the very nature of our species. If we, in the future, are no longer wired for solitary reflection and creative thought, we will be diminished.”

What are your thoughts lovely readers?

April 27, 2012

Frivolous Friday

April 27, 2012

On a completely unrelated note

This is a friend of mine who is awesome… Her EP in coming out in June…Check it out.

April 26, 2012

I judge books by their covers

I have a bone to pick with the world. It’s about the phrase: ‘Never judge a Book by its cover’. Before I launch into my rant (and this will be a rant), I should mention that when applied to people, this phrase makes perfect sense. It is wrong to dismiss someone due to their appearance etc etc.

However, when applied to actual books, this phrase grates on me. We all judge books by their covers. Don’t lie to me, I know you have. Picture this. You’re in a bookshop, wandering around the sections looking for something new to buy. You narrow it down to a certain section. How do you choose ‘blindly’ (i.e. if you’re not basing your decisions on buying authors you know are good, books recommended to you, best sellers etc). The cover.  The cover will matter because it will speak to you- it’s not about the ‘beauty’ of it i.e. it’s not about whether it’s been well produced or not, it’s about what it says. If you see an old battered copy of something made of vellum-like paper and you’re in to old books, you’re probably going to pick it up. If you’re in to fantasy and there’s a magnificent sketch of a dragon, don’t tell me that you don’t pick it up. If you see a vampire on the cover you may enter a fit of rage and simply burn the book right there. But I digress.

The covers of books are like clothes, not personalities. They are the book’s ‘sunday best’. That doesn’t mean that bad covers mean bad books, or that good covers make good ones, or that books should or are chosen purely on the merit of their cover, but after all to judge means: to form an opinion or evaluation. And in those first faltering moments of choice and indecision, we do make a judgement. Of course this is quickly superceeded by whether the title is good or not, reading the blurb and (in my case) the first chapter. And much like people we may find that a pretty face (whether in shiny new 20th century form or in crumbling, gorgeous old-book fun) masks an emptiness and general boredom, but the judgement is still made in that moment before you pick  up the book.

I know that this seems rather pedantic- after all, I am making only a slight distinction in relation to the very initial, two second judgement that we make of a book, rather than actually forming an opinion of the book based on its appearance- which I am sure that no self-respecting book lover would actually do. But ultimately, I cannot help but think that book covers do play a huge part in making blind book decisions. Rant over. BookBimbo out.

April 25, 2012

Book I just Can’t Finish

I hate not finishing a book. I hate it. Really. I’m very much a ‘stick it out’ kind of person- possibly simply because I believe that a book deserves to be finished before you decide on its relative merits. So when I don’t enjoy the beginning of a book enough to the point of not being able to go on, it irritates me. And I am determined to remedy the problem.

My current pet peeve is The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimeus trilogy). I tried to enjoy it. I really did. Trully. But I’ve never been able to get past the first chapter. I’ve tried so many times I don’t even remember why I disliked it in the first place. Anyways. It is on my to-read list. I am determined to finish. Especially with a synopsis like this: (and when you read it, it’s like- that sounds like it would be good, I mean a witty and sarcastic main character? What more could I want?!)

Goodreads SynopsisNathaniel is a boy magician-in-training, sold to the government by his birth parents at the age of five and sent to live as an apprentice to a master. Powerful magicians rule Britain, and its empire, and Nathaniel is told his is the “ultimate sacrifice” for a “noble destiny.” 

If leaving his parents and erasing his past life isn’t tough enough, Nathaniel’s master, Arthur Underwood, is a cold, condescending, and cruel middle-ranking magician in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The boy’s only saving grace is the master’s wife, Martha Underwood, who shows him genuine affection that he rewards with fierce devotion. Nathaniel gets along tolerably well over the years in the Underwood household until the summer before his eleventh birthday. Everything changes when he is publicly humiliated by the ruthless magician Simon Lovelace and betrayed by his cowardly master who does not defend him. 

Nathaniel vows revenge. In a Faustian fever, he devours magical texts and hones his magic skills, all the while trying to appear subservient to his master. When he musters the strength to summon the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus to avenge Lovelace by stealing the powerful Amulet of Samarkand, the boy magician plunges into a situation more dangerous and deadly than anything he could ever imagine. 

In British author Jonathan Stroud’s excellent novel, the first of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, the story switches back and forth from Bartimaeus’s first-person point of view to third-person narrative about Nathaniel. Here’s the best part: Bartimaeus is absolutely hilarious, with a wit that snaps, crackles, and pops. His dryly sarcastic, irreverent asides spill out into copious footnotes that no one in his or her right mind would skip over. A sophisticated, suspenseful, brilliantly crafted, dead-funny book that will leave readers anxious for more.

April 24, 2012

Poison

Goodreads Synopsis: Poison has always been a willful, contrary girl, prone to being argumentative and stubborn. So when her sister is snatched by the mean-spirited faeries, she seeks out the Phaerie Lord to get her back.
But finding him isn’t easy, and the quest leads Poison into a murderous world of intrigue, danger, and deadly storytelling. With only her wits and her friends to aid her, Poison must survive the attentions of the Phaerie Lord, rescue her sister, and thwart a plot that’s beyond anything she (or the reader) can imagine. . .

My Ramblings: Poison was what I called a ‘post office read’- a book I picked up wanting to read something new but with expectation of something a little awful. As usual I am reviewing it because it did surpass my expectations. I do not demand you go out and buy it immediately, but it is still interesting if you’re just looking for a filler read. The themes are very gothic, dark fantasy- nothing happy and fairy-taily about it. For those of you who watch Grimm on NBC, I’d say that Poison is a PG version of this program. There are some classical cliches- the evil stepmother, the naive but witty heroine going on an adventure and thus you do need to persevere for the first chapter or two- but the characters, particularly in the second half of the book, are relatively original and well written (for a fantasy novel). Congrats to Chris Wooding on a solid piece of work.

April 23, 2012

3 reasons…

3 reasons I love blogging…

I think it’s safe to say that no one blogs regularly unless they enjoy it. I can think of no other reason to take time out of your day to ramble on in the hopes that someone, somewhere in the masses of people on the planet, actually gives two hoots about what you’re writing. But here are three concrete reasons I find it awesome.

1. It makes me a better reader

I’ll be honest, up until January this year I had pretty much shelved (terrible pun in the making, be warned) my reading habit. It became a thing of the past like- I used to read a lot when I was little. Although I stubbornly refused to relinquish my title as a book-lover I  was only reading 5-10 non university books in a year. Setting myself the challenge, and blogging about it, has motivated me. It shows me when I’ve been neglecting my loving paper friends. Like when, at the end of lent, (bearing in mind that Lent is 40 days and 40 nights) I had only actually COMPLETED one book. I had read many books, but not finished them. Terrible, but it made me get a move on. Without this blog I could hide my book shame, but I couldn’t. Because one of my readers would catch me out, would remind me that my goodreads counter was dangerously low.

2.  I meet people

I always thought blogging about books would make me a better reader but I never expected to meet so many lovely people. Can’t really get better than being able to connect with people who have similar interests.

3. It makes me a better writer

Like most book worms, I entertain often elaborate fantasies about writing and publishing the next big thing, pushing J.K Rowling off her Potter pedestal and having writers bow to my literary glory. When I return from the land of unlikely fantasies, I am often faced with my blog. It is here that I babble inanely about anything and everything that comes to mind and whilst I’m hardly the next Austen, blogging makes me more fluid, more engaged, less worried about what people think and more concerned about what I enjoy. And somehow- that seems to interest people too, making my writing dreams become just that little bit more likely..

So there are my three reasons. What are yours?.. :)

April 22, 2012

Book Looks

         

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