Thursday, 29 December 2011

52 Books in 52 Weeks WRAP UP.

What an amazing experience it has been to do the '52 Books in 52 Weeks' Challenge.

I came up with the idea after stumbling upon a random blog that still exist somewhere in the great expanse of the internet-verse. Some random bloke was reading 52 books and it struck my interest immediately. Then I found Robin's blog here at Blogger and the rest is history.

It has been an amazing experience and hopefully I have learned as lot as a struggling ( maniac) writer.

Robin has posted these questions on her website.

Did you reach the goal of 52 books or did you manage to beat your own personal best?

I reached 60 and it is my personal record.

What book are you ending the year with?

Feisty Fido by Patricia B McConnel and Karen B London.

Did you discover a new author or genre? Did you love them or hate them?

I discovered Young Adult Fiction and surprisingly I like it. I also discovered lots of authors !

Did you challenge yourself to read more non fiction if prefer fiction or more fiction if you prefer non fiction?

Yes I read mainly fiction but I included a few non fiction books and I hope to do the same next year. Maybe more.

Did you read from a list or wing it?

I just kind of winged it and built up a collection of books as I went along.

How many classics did you read? What did you think of the writing style or author?

I read eight books that I suppose are looked upon as classics. Some were easier to read than other !

Name one book that you thought you'd never read and was pleasantly surprised you like it.

That's got to be 'The gatecrasher' by Sophie Kinsella ! I never thought i'd read chic lit but it was surprisingly ok ! Full of terrible spelling mistakes though !

What are your top ten favorite books?

My ten favourites of the year, all great books.

1 December - Elizabeth H Winthrop

2 Jamrach's Menagerie - Carol Birch

3 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

4 The Long Walk - Richard Bachman ( Stephen King)

5 One Foot wrong - Sophie Laguna

6 The Birth of Love - Joanna Kavenna

7 Sam's letters to Jennifer - James Patterson

8 The Girl on the Landing - Paul Torday

9 Stephen King - On writing ( A Memoir)

10 Stop Me - Richard Jay Parker

What are your ten least favorite books?

Roughly with my least favourite at the top !

1 MacBeth - William Shakespear

2 The All-Inclusive christ - Witness Lee

3 Complete Poems - Elizabeth Bishop

4 The Runes workbook - Leon Wild

5 Bloody River Blues - Jeffery Deaver

6 The Delinquents - Criena Rohan

7 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Paul Torday

8 Northern Lights - Philip Pullman

9 Haematology at a Glance - Mehta and Hoftbrand

10 Rage - Richard Bachman ( Stephen King)

Did you start any books that you just simply couldn't finish?

I felt like it a few times but I hung on.

What did you think of the mini challenges and did you join in or complete any?

I thought they were a fantastic idea and I think I took part in a few of them but not at the right time !

Did your family join in on the fun?

Nope. But my wife has started to read a lot more , so perhaps I have been a good influence. Maybe I will add some of her books onto my TBR pile when she's not looking. But seriously, Vampire Diaries !! lol

How many books have you added to your wishlist since the beginning of the year?

I have accumulated quite a TBR pile. Enough to keep me going. A mixture of real books, audio books, kindle books and library books.

What was your favorite thing about the challenge?

I just loved the whole thing and it's one of the best things I have done. I loved discovering different authors and different genres. I loved reading other people's reviews and meeting a few new friends along the way.

Hopefully it has also helped me as a writer to give me a better understanding of what makes a good book.


I also discovered Twitter along the way and have found some great new authors there, something I wasn't expecting when I started. I have also received some great feedback from a few authors following my reviews and have even been sent an autographed book by the lovely Joanna Kavenna ( Thankyou ) as well as a few nice emails.

I have learned that thrillers aren't really my cup of tea ( but maybe next year I will change my mind) and I've also learned that I find Librivox audios extremely annoying ! I have also found that literary fiction ( can you call them non Genre books ?) have been my favourite this year.

Next year I hope to start all over again. I hope to discover some new genres (Graphic Novels, Autobiographies ?) and read more romance perhaps, humour and maybe another chic lit !

Mainly though I hope to continue writing and breathing, in that order.

My complete book list in order from the first to the last.

1 The Keys to Hell - Jack Higgins
2 The Time Travellers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger.
3 Portrait of the artist as a young dog - Dylan Thomas
4 The Runes workbook - Leon D Wild
5 Emma - Jane Austen
6 Northern Lights - Philip Pullman
7 The Ghosts of Sleath - James Herbert
8 The Whisperers - John Connolly
9 Stephen king - On Writing ( A Memoir)
10 Inconceivable - Ben Elton

11 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
12 Macbeth - William Shakespear
13 Sam's Letters to Jennifer - James Patterson
14 Lord of the Flies - William Goulding
15 The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
16 Doors open - Ian Rankin
17 The Spire - Richard North Patterson
18 The Owl Tree - Jenny Nimmo
19 The Time Machine - H G Wells
20 Rage - Richard Bachman

21 Haematology at a Glance - Mehta and Hoftbrand
22 The Long Walk - Richard Bachman
23 The Delinquents - Criena Rohan
24 The All-Inclusive Christ - Witness Lee
25 Dead Like You - Peter James
26 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
27 Blood Stained Kings - Tim Willocks
28 The Girl on the Landing - Paul Torday
29 Walking the Tree - Kaaron Warren
30 The Phone Goes Dead - Anthony Horowitz

31 The Birth of Love - Joanna Kavenna
32 Stop Me - Richard Jay Parker
33 The Secret Garden ( Audio Book) - Frances Hodgson
34 Paranormality - Professor Richard Wiseman
35 Equal Rights - Terry Pratchett
36 One Foot wrong - Sofie Laguna
37 Bloody River Blues - Jeffery Deaver
38 Roadwork - Richard Bachman
39 Complete Poems - Elizabeth Bishop
40 Sex With Dead People - David Allan Barker ( E Book)

41 The Gatecrasher - Sophie Kinsella
42 Sweet Savage Charity ( E Book) - Margaret Lake
43 Angels and demons - Dan Brown
44 Forbidden Mind ( E Book)- Kimberley Kinrade
45 Jamrach's Menagerie - Carol Birch
46 An Inspector Calls - J B Priestley
47 Meditation for Beginners - Jack Kornfield
48 Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King
49 The Small Hand - Susan Hill
50 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Paul Torday

51 The Hobbit - J R R Tolkien
52 December - Elizabeth H Winthrop
53 A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
54 The Running Man - Richard Bachman
55 The Green Odyssey ( Audio Book) - Philip Jose Farmer
56 The Dead - David Gatward
57 Dark Rivers of the Heart - Dean Koontz
58 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
59 Photography - Peter Cattrel

60 Feisty Fido - Patricia McConnell and Karen B London

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

60 - Feisty Fido ( Help for the Leash Reactive Dog) by Patricia B McConnell and Karen B London

This the 60th and my last book of the year is probably my most helpful !

I will set the scene by saying that we (not very long ago) took ownership of a little dog, a cross between a pug and a border terrier, and he is a little terror at times. Money doesn't exactly grow on trees and the local rates for dog training is way over our heads at the moment. This is the first book I have read on my new Kindle and it is very helpful. I am trying to train Bailey myself and this little book was perfect and I am hoping that it works. The dog training techniques are simple but sound pretty impressive.

I started the new training programme today and Bailey did very well, although I am under no illusions that it could take around 7 months or over to change him into a new dog ! I think if I can train Bailey, I can train any dog so maybe there will be a new hobby there for me. I have already purchased another training book from my local library.

Just let me take this opportunity to wish everyone who has read any of my blog posts a very Merry Christmas and fabulous new year. It has been such an amazing experience to do this challenge and I have way outdone my expectations.
I am hoping to post a wrap up post in the next few days and I look forward to another year of '52 books in a year'. I am hoping to post some of my own short stories too to make it a little bit more interesting or not as the case may be !

As for Feisty Fido, my first Kindle book, a whopping 10/10.

Thanks to Mrs Henry for buying me the Kindle and it has now become my second wife !

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

59 Photography - Peter Cattrell

I don't own a film camera ( not a working one anyway)and my own digital camera isn't anything flashy but I bought this over a year ago when I became interested in photography for a short time. It is a pretty good introduction to photography with good illustrations and it more or less kept my interest. Some of the chapters were quite painstakingly ( frustratingly) difficult to read, especially the technical stuff about how to develop your own negatives. I have never been in a dark room and it all went over my head. Other parts of the book are interesting and I do feel like I have learned a hell of a lot about photograpy in general.

It hasn't made me want to buy an old fashioned camera or build my own darkroom in my kitchen but maybe I would (one day) like to learn a little bit more about digital photography. It certainly would help my writing career if I could work with digital imagery. It was a quick read. Not the most riveting thing I have read but maybe my brain is a little bigger !


Heavenly Thoughts

Ok this is my first attempt at putting one of my short (tiny) stories onto my blog. Hope it turns out ok and hopefully I will put more stuff up in the coming year.

Heavenly Thoughts

The heavens have just opened, scratching my ass I curse the day I ever

decided to play this stupid game. You probably wouldn’t like it but there’s sod

all to do here at the entrance to the Pearly Gates. All day long I see those

poor buggers, appearing out of nowhere like they do, all pale faced and lost

looking and then there’s always the infernal knocking and knocking. Sometimes they

can be there for hours. I pity their sob stories and confessions, but at the end

of the day if he aint gonna let you in he aint gonna let you in. This isn’t a bed

and breakfast in Blackpool, you can scream and shout as much as you want but

sometimes there’s only one place for you to go.

Oh I’ve seen them all in my line of business, idiots that have jumped from

balconies or others that have walked into the sea thinking they’ve got flippers

for arms.

I hate the rain, it’s a bloody nuisance when I’m playing this damn stupid game .

Oh here comes another young one with his pants down his ankles and one of those

bolts in his ear like they’re all wearing these days. I wonder what the hell he

did to end up here at this ungodly hour. I know I shouldn’t talk like that , what

with him indoors sitting on his throne or doing his Sudoku or whatever the hell he

likes to do at this time of the morning. Maybe he’s toasting some muffins.

This guy he’s got no chance I can tell you now. Thing is there’s no halo you see,

you don’t stand a chance in hell without a halo, if you excuse the pun.

They come in all shapes and sizes your halo’s, ranging from small to extra-large.

Fancy looking things, all sparkly and shiny. I like the luminous ones best, all

lit up like fairy lights on a Christmas tree. Comes in handy when I’m on nights,

wouldn’t mind though I don’t get any extra money, just my basic; tight bugger that

HE is. I should be careful really, he’s supposed to be omnipresent and all that,

he probably knows what I’m thinking before I actually think about thinking. Mind

you he hasn’t said anything to me yet and I’m always thinking bad stuff and a few

naughty things too. Especially when those dolly birds come along, wearing nothing

much and leaving even less to the imagination. I can’t help my thoughts sometimes,

I don’t get out much. It’s lonely work being the only security Guard in Heaven.

Not that I ever get any trouble, they take one look at me and run a mile, I’m an

ugly bugger, what with my seven chins and my two heads and pony tail. I’ve also

got this sting in my tail that I use when I get annoyed, but I don’t like to use

it, gives me a migraine and you can’t get any decent pain killers around here. Not

much call for them. It’s also no fun getting a migraine when you have two heads.

I’m pretty much redundant, just like a sodding scarecrow really, that’s all I am.

Except there’s no birds shitting on my head, just clouds that are forever bumping

into each other and causing it to rain all the time.

I hate being wet and there’s never any shelter, him indoors (who must be

worshipped at all times) has ignored my housing application and he doesn’t believe

in umbrellas.

To be honest there’s nothing to see around here either, it’s all kind of white,

like you’d probably expect and sod all as far as the eye can see. I thought he

could have at least given me a garden with some begonias or maybe a small mountain

with a couple of goats. An allotment would do. Give me something to do. That’s why

I always end up playing this stupid game, it passes away the time. It’s nothing

spectacular but I like it, keeps my mind off those dolly birds, all tits and legs.

Keeps his highness off my back at any rate but I tell you what, it’s bloody

monotonous playing ‘Keepy Uppy’ with a broken halo.

Friday, 23 December 2011

58 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and hates people until one night time seems to stand still and he is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas yet to Come.

I remember watching the original movie many years ago ( I am getting on a bit) and subsequent films, cartoons and parodies, but I have never read the book until now. It is a really good book and just what I needed at this time. I don't mind Christmas but being a bloke I hate shopping at the best of times and Christmas shopping is a bloody nightmare !

But this classic tale is just the thing to get you into the Christmas spirit. Although Charles Dickens wrote this in 1843 it is just as easy to read and to appreciate in 2011. You just can't fault it and it is no surprise that it remains an all time classic.

My only wish is that I had read the actual book instead of listening to the Libribox audio recording. I have read three Libribox audio recordings this year and to be quite honest I found them all pretty annoying. There's something just not quite right when you are listening to a book set in Victorian London and find a couple of characters speaking with an eastern european accent ! Don't get me wrong I think it's great that this voluntary organisation is making audio recordings of old classics but it is a little off putting. Maybe it would have been better if one narrator had actually read the whole thing instead of having different actors for each part.

I wouldn't mind reading all the novels of Dickens in 2012, maybe it is something I can do as part of my next 52 books in 52 weeks challenge.

My rating for ' A Christmas Carol' 8/10
My rating for the audio recording 2/10 !

I do want to read more audio books next year but I think personally I will stay clear from free Librivox audio downloads unless there are some that are not as annoying.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

57 - Dark Rivers of the Heart by Dean Koontz

Headline Book publishing

One man walks into a bar with a red door, looking for the woman who could save his life. The same man is walking around with a scar and the weight of the world on his shoulders. Spencer Grant is trying desperately to forget his past but also to remember the one thing that is stopping him from moving on. The day he walks through the red door is the same day he finds himself being hunted by men in helicopters and on a perilous journey for his life through Las Vegas and the over stretched arms of the desert.

One man, a dog and a mysterious woman are escaping, they just don't know where to or where it will all end. But somebody wants them dead.

This is the first Dean Koontz book that I have read and it is one of those books that I started a couple of years ago ( I think) and never quite finished. At 728 pages it is a hell of a book-end and becomes the longest book of the year for me.
I'm not really into thrillers but for this challenge I want to read a few of them as well as other genres. As far as thrillers go this is a pretty descent read and although it is a long book, it did ( more or less) keep my interest all the way. The main two characters as well as the peripheral characters are absorbingly real and the characters and plot are revealed bit by bit and not all at once. In fact the whole plot is clever and suspenseful. At times it is as gruesome as Stephen King and it also contained parts that would make those of a more prudish nature blush !
Although I generally enjoyed this book I did think the ending was a little bit unrealistic in parts and also a tad disjointed but there was probably no other way to conclude the story.

It is quite well known that Dean Koontz writes each page excessively slowly and only moves on once he is happy with it and such attention to detail shows in this book. Although I'm still not sold on thrillers I would like to read more from this author who has escaped my radar for so long.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

56 - The Dead by David Gatward.

Hodder Children's Books

Lazarus Stone is a normal 15 year old who gets up one night and discovers a skinless figure drenched in blood in his living room. His father has disappeared and (it turns out) is not quite who he thought he was. The bloody figure in his house has one simple message.

'The Dead are Coming.'

The dead are indeed trying to escape from the world beyond and it seems Lazarus is in the right place at the right time. We also encounter an alcoholic winged woman who drives a four wheeled drive like a maniac !

Reading 'The Dead' is another journey for me into the realm of YA fiction. David Gatward tells a fun and twisty story and seems to have a talent for this genre. It's fun, it's light, it keeps your interest and it has all the required ingredients.

This isn't going to win the Man Booker Prize, it isn't the most beautifully written book I have read this year but that's not what it is about. It's a fun read, I think i would have loved it if I had read it when I was 15 like Lazarus Stone. If you like YA fiction then you may like this. The Dark is the first in a trilogy and maybe I will read the other two. I haven't decided yet.