Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Book for the Flight

We're off on Friday on a looooong haul flight, back home to the UK for good after several years in the Falkland Islands.  We've done the trips a few times now, and I know that, for me, a book is absolutely essential to survive the 18 hours with very little ability to sleep.

It has to be the right book - one that will engage my attention but not be too tiring to read or require too much brain power; it has to be one I can put down when one of the four children needs something, so nothing too exciting or I'll get frustrated; it has to be a smallish book - of course, that wouldn't be a problem if I'd got a Kindle, but I'm still a fan of the paper version - but it has to be long enough that I don't finish it before we land in the UK; and preferably, it has to be one I haven't read before.

This last point is perhaps the hardest when you live 8000 miles from a bookshop.  As I have to order my books with at least two weeks before I need them there is a great temptation to just read them as soon as they arrive.  I've already read one of the new books I was 'saving' for the flight.  Fortunately, I've been able to avoid reading the other one by raiding the local library to keep me going until we leave.  That's working well so far, though I'm going to have to finish them quickly, or I won't get to know the ending.

So, which book have I gone for?  I've chosen Teacher, Teacher! by Jack Shepherd.  I've already read the most recent book in the series, but I've decided to go back and start at the beginning - something you can actually do with this series of books about the head teacher of a small village school in Yorkshire.  I'm confident it's just what I need.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

And there's a Hit!

There's something very exciting about seeing that someone new has looked at!  It's great as well, to see the return visits, because that means people are actually 'using' the search system.  However, I know that there is nothing worse than having people disappointed in finding nothing they want when they choose an option.  I must find a way to get some more books on the website to give people more variety...  Of course, too many and that's another kind of problem.  One I would love to have, however!  Still, I've just finished another book, so slowly but surely I'll be topping it up myself.  Just as well I'm developing a fairly eclectic taste for stories!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Finished The Witness After All!

Okay, so I finished The Witness by Nora Roberts.  It got better again.  Strange really - the "Brooks" section was a bit overdone on the descriptions and characters, and then as soon as she got back to Abigail, it was smooth again.  I wonder if it was deliberate - trying to sound more like a man writing?  Overall, I enjoyed it alot - to the point of ignoring the packing I should have been doing when the children were happily occupied.  I've put it on the website, so if you want to make up your own mind, go to and choose Romantic Suspense as Genre, and you will find my 'unbiased' analysis.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

On Second Thoughts

I'm going to revise my review of The Witness by Nora Roberts.  I've decided that the beginning is great, but the next section seems to me to be falling into all the stilted description and trite story line I was impressed not to see in the first part.  Oh well, it's still mostly a good read - Romantic Suspense, apparently.  Not sure if I'll bother to finish it, though.  It's not really gripping me any more.  But, hey, that's just my opinion.  Make up your own mind.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

I am Reading... The Witness by Nora Roberts

In my continuing search for interesting books to put on the website, I have picked up The Witness by Nora Roberts from the Library.  I thought I'd just flick through it, but I'm finding it quite consuming.
At first I thought it was a who-dunnit style of Crime Thriller, which isn't really my thing, but I'm finding it to be much more like the TV series "In Plain Sight" which is about the US Witness Protection.  The style is really smooth and easy to read, and the characters come across as very real and vivid without having to go for the extensive descriptions that some writers seem to feel necessary.  It's not really the most hard hitting novel in the world, and I suspect that there are large holes in the WP systems described - But who cares.  It's an engaging story, entertaining, and not too gruesome!
I'll probably analyse it as 'good all round romp'!

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Website "Ask Me About Books" Built

So I had this great idea for a website...  Searchable criteria to avoid all that trawling through reviews that I often don't agree with anyway.  (Sometimes I enjoy trashy!)  Brilliant.  Then what?  Well, I discovered that it wasn't something I could build with my own computer skills, so we called in the experts - Contrapositive New Media.  And the results have been very good - I'm sure you'll agree:
Now, however, it's my turn again - and that's the hard part!  Gathering data on the books, loading it on, and then, of course, making sure everyone has heard about it...  Starting to bore my friends now, I think, :)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Is Fantasy Fantastical?

I read a modern romance - Summer Daydreams - the other day and I was struck by the element of the fantastic within the story (I won't go into too much detail or I'll spoil it!).  As I've mentioned before I tend to read High Fantasy a lot. The interesting thing with true Fantasy is that it has to keep to the rules within the created world, and so there is an internal believability in what is happening, however unexpected or miraculous it may be.  I was taken aback to find that the same rule doesn't apply to 'real' fiction.  I always expect fiction set in the 'real' world to have to fit the rules of our world - if you do something in real life, certain consequences or results are inevitable.  But then I realised that fiction is just that - fiction, and the writer is free to break any rules they please.  However like the 'real' world their world may be, it is still their world.  Intriguing, and rather fun.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Books found while exploring new Genres

I've been on a voyage of discovery as I search for new books to put on the website.  I've always been a fairly hard and fast SF and Fantasy fan, usually uncomfortable picking up books outside of that safe zone.  In order to get a broad spectrum for our users, though, I've been venturing into genres and styles that are not my natural reading home.

And I find that I have missed out on some really good reads because of my narrow Genre focus.  To my amusement, I find that I really enjoy romantic Chick Lit, as long as there isn't too much about infidelity and broken relationships.  I have a taste for adventure and political Thrillers, although I skim read the really graphic violence - particularly anything by Matthew Reilly.  I have warmed to the more pastoral life story style, such as the Teacher series by Jack Sheffield.  I don't think I'll ever develop a liking for Murder & Organised Crime stories, although I do like the occassional Mystery, and I will always really hate Horror.

So all in all I am enjoying my journey beyond the realms of SF & Fantasy.  I'm looking forward to discovering more and I'm hoping that my website search options will give other people the courage to step out and explore with me.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Another book finishes!!!

I settled down this evening to finish reading Echoes of Betrayal by Elizabeth Moon, book three of a trilogy, I thought.  It's a fantastic Epic Fantasy, full of heroism and inspiration, fast paced and complex, and best of all it's a sequel to another Trilogy set in the same world.  I prepared myself for that grief of the story ending, my right to live in that world ended until I start reading the series again. (A bit dramatic, but that's how it feels)   As the pages turned and I was carried along, jumping from subplot to subplot I started to wonder how she would tie up all those different threads in what looked like very few pages...  And then suddenly I realised - the book was ending and the story hadn't.  Ouch!  The next book isn't published yet and there are going to be another two!  That is an exciting discovery, but now I don't know what happens next.  Book Four isn't due out until June 2013.

Deep breath.  Time to start the series again, I think.
Or maybe I'll just try something completely different.

A website idea is born...

One month since we launched, I think it's time to reflect on how I got to this point...
Ask Me About Books is an idea that came to me when I finished a series of Fantasy novels recommended by a good friend - Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher.  Stunning story line, breath taking in places, really vivid, admirable characters and I felt that grief I always feel when I'd finished the last book, deliberately slowing down my reading on the last few chapters to savour the world I had come to love.  Reading is a passion for me, but I'm very choosy about the world's I disappear into and I hate to buy a book unless I'm expecting to read it several times.

The trouble is, so often when people recommend books - or when I recommend books to others - there just isn't that 'match'.  It's a bit like being set up on a blind date with a friend.  Only the best friends can really find someone you'll get on with, and who knows those secret things that you're looking for?  It's the same with books - just because someone else has enjoyed it, doesn't mean I will.

Of course, that doesn't stop me recommending books to others - but I want to ask some questions first: Do you want something gentle and relaxing to read or something that will leave you breathless at the end of it?  Do you care about the characters or is it all about the action?  Are there any particular pet hates you have?  A bit of an interrogation...

And so was born.  A list of options that searches a database of books to - hopefully - provide you with the perfect match.  And the great thing about looking for a book (unlike dating) is that one day you might want something relaxing, sometime something challenging, so there's always something new to discover.

The adventure continues.