Posts Tagged ‘BookMooch’

More for the collection! :)

Friday, 20 May 2011
Cover of "Shakespeare's Planet"

Cover of Shakespeare's Planet

We finally got to the post office this morning, for the first time in a couple of weeks, to send off a couple of BookMooch items, and receive several more, plus a couple of much appreciated gifts from my mother. Nothing for the baby this time (although there is one children’s book, it’ll be a few years till she’d be ready for it), and a good few of them were DH’s choices (mostly classic science fiction) rather than mine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t read them even before he does…

    • The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel. (My mother and I both read the first five books in this series in the 90s, so now that the last one is finally published she very kindly got me a copy. I don’t have copies of the others, but with that gap I presume Auel will remind us of any details we need to know. I do remember the basic story, and I’m sure the rest will come back to me.)
    • Cover of Jerusalem: The Biography

      Cover of Jerusalem: The Biography

      Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore. (Both parents have recommended this as an interesting read, so I’m intrigued.)

    • Timescape by Gregory Benford. (One of DH’s choices whose back cover makes it sound like apocalyptic SF.)
    • Surprise Island by Gertrude Chandler Warner. (The second of the Boxcar Children Mysteries, as recommended by a couple of my lovely readers/commenters here, so I’ll try to get to this one relatively quickly.)
    • Sacred Clowns by Tony Hillerman. (I requested the entire set of Hillerman’s Chee/Leaphorn novels on BookMooch, so they’re gradually arriving. I may wait for the rest and then read them through in chronological order.)
    • The Dark Wind by Tony Hillerman. (As above.)
    • Cover of The Lovely Bones

      Cover of The Lovely Bones

      The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. (I never read this when it was so popular, but it did sound interesting, so we’ll see.)

    • Shakespeare’s Planet by Clifford D. Simak. (DH’s. I haven’t read any Simak yet.)
Cover of "The Planet Buyer (U.K.)"

Cover of The Planet Buyer (U.K.)

  • The Planet Buyer by Cordwainer Smith. (As previous.)
  • Destiny Doll by Clifford D. Simak. (This too.)
  • The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. (And this.)

Down the side of the bed

Monday, 16 May 2011
The Speed of Dark

Image via Wikipedia

I read in bed quite a lot. It’s something I’ve always done, and it goes together quite well with a baby who doesn’t like to sleep without a parent next to her. I usually have a few on the go, piled on the top corner of the bed (in a corner of the room) and occasionally one or two fall down the side, from where I fish them out as I realise they’re missing. The bed got jogged out of place this morning, however, and when I went to retrieve the avalanche I realised that there were a few older escapees. To be unnoticed as missing these were ones I hadn’t actually got into, and sometimes hadn’t even started, but had just thought might be interesting. Anyway, I thought I’d list them here, with comments on how I’m getting on with them. (The order is just as they were piled.)

The ones I really wasn’t reading will probably go back on the shelf for now, but renoticing them has got me intrigued by some of them again. Watch this space to see which ones make it to the ‘Read’ lists…

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

Unstarted, although it looks interesting. Looks a bit different from the other science-fiction I’ve been reading of late.

Cover of

Cover of Farewell, My Queen

Farewell, My Queen by Chantal Thomas

About three-quarters of the way through this novel of the last days French royal court in July 1789, and enjoying it quite a lot.

Cover of "The Green Flag: A history of Ir...

Cover via Amazon

The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism by Robert Kee

While this officially covers the history right from the 12th century it really picks up the detail from the mid-17th century. I’m up to the late 18th century, approaching but not yet at the 1798 rebellion.

The Little Girl Book by David Laskin and Kathleen O’Neill

A rather different approach to a parenting book than I’ve come across before, this discusses the complicated issue of bringing up little girls while negotiating the stereotypes and sexism of our societies. The book was published in 1992, so still seeing how it stands up two decades later to my own opinions. Definitely interesting, though.

Cover of "Byzantium Endures"

Cover of Byzantium Endures

Byzantium Endures by Michael Moorcock

The two or three chapters I’ve read of this so far are decidedly odd. I’ll give it more time gradually and hope it grabs my attention. I wasn’t enjoying it all that much, and yet it was somewhat compelling.



People of Darkness by Tony Hillerman

I got side-tracked from the Hillerman books, but will get back to them. (I’d better, seeing as I ordered the entire set on Bookmooch!) I’d read a chapter or so of this one, but would probably restart from the beginning.

The Sea Wolf by Jack London

I haven’t read any London since I was seven, and read White Fang in one sitting (staying with my grandparents I picked it up off their shelves to sustain me through a long morning meeting of my grandmother’s). I’m still in the introduction here, and I hadn’t realised what a fascinating life the author himself had.

Cover of How I Came West

Cover of How I Came West

How I Came West, and Why I Stayed by Alison Baker

A rather bizarre collection of often fantastical (but always so far set in modern-day USA) stories that I’m enjoying so long as I read each story in a single sitting, as they can be hard to keep track of after a break.

I don’t think I’ve read a collection of stories that was neither from one of the orthodox Jewish publishers nor aimed at children in an absolute age. (These are definitely not for children, although not crude, just for adults.) I’m enjoying the different perspective, and wondering why the general market avoids them so much.

Med Ship by Murray Leinster

I think this is a compilation of a lot of stories and novellas Leinster set in the same universe, but which aren’t always about the same characters, but I’m not far enough in to be sure.

Cover of China WitnessChina Witness by Xinran

More academic in its feel than the other books by Xinran I’ve read, this offers a very broad sweep of 20th century experience in China, as told by the survivors and thrivers of that period, an apparently reticent and now elderly generation. Each chapter, about a different person or small group, is relatively short, and tends to leave me wanting more, but that’s not a bad thing.

Wisdom of the Fox by Harry Turtledove

I don’t know why I haven’t got into this, seeing as I’ve been enjoying Turtledove’s alternate histories so much. I think I wasn’t really in the mood for what appeared to be more classic fantasy. I’ll try again at some point.

Cover of Wild Swans

Cover of Wild Swans

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

The first book about Chinese history I read. That was as a teenager, shortly after it first came out, and with all the Xinran I’ve been reading I thought I should go back to this one too. I’m picking up on details I certainly hadn’t remembered, partly because I’m older and partly because I do know a bit more about China now and can make more sense of what was going on (not that it’s badly explained in the book, but there’s only so much context a writer can be expected to give). Still looking for other modern writers on the country.

Joke a minute

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

59. The Channel Island Joke Book edited by Jason Grainger

This was a nice little bonus with Donkey’s Ears Ago, the prequel to Donkey’s Ears Apart, that I discussed here recently. There’s a brief introduction, particularly useful to non-islanders, about the internal stereotypes of the different Channel Islands, and then a series of jokes roughly arranged into themed chapters. Many of the jokes seem basically familiar from elsewhere in the English-speaking world (especially the British Isles) but there are some indigenous ones too, particularly the chapter of jokes from and about the German Occupation of the Channel Islands, which certainly couldn’t be from elsewhere in English. Some of the jokes are a little blue, but there are plenty of family-friendly ones too.

Friends and Family

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I’ll admit that I knew next to nothing about this book when I asked for it on BookMooch, but I thought it might be of interest, and it was. The sender has offered me another in the series, which I’m currently looking forward to.

Cover of Donkey's Ears Apart51. Donkey’s Ears Apart by George Torode

I somehow suspect the author mightn’t have expected a copy of this to turn up in Jerusalem, since it’s a series of reminiscences about some Guernsey characters (with greater and lesser degrees of eccentricity). Most of the datable incidents appear to be from the 50s, 60s and 70s, although since the book was published in the mid 1990s some may be later, and one or two are from the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands, so the 40s. Seeing as my ancestors left Guernsey about five generations ago I certainly haven’t come across any of these individuals before.

The book appears to have been self-published, and that does come out in the proofreading, but it’s well worth the read in any case. My impression is that the author is a great oral storyteller, and has simply written his stories as he’d tell them, and 99% of the time that works great. (The other 1% is largely me being persnickity as someone who’s been paid to proofread a time or two.)

Obvious and not so much

Monday, 28 March 2011
Cover of "97 Ways to Make A Baby Laugh"

Cover of 97 Ways to Make A Baby Laugh

40. 97 Ways to Make a Baby Laugh by Jack Moore

I happened across this in the BookMooch inventory of someone I was getting another book from, and was intrigued. Some of the tips really will work (which ones rather depends on your baby and just how you put them into practice, of course), but largely this is worth a bit of amusement to the adult reader in imagining how the rest would go across.

Not a ‘must have’ or even ‘must keep’ in my opinion, but a bit of fun to read through.

Not miserable

Friday, 18 March 2011

Here’s a book I almost certainly wouldn’t have read if it hadn’t been for BookMooch. Basically I wanted to get something from someone in another country who wanted at least two to send here, and this looked the most potentially interesting of the remaining inventory.

Cover of Evelyn

Cover of Evelyn

38. Evelyn by Evelyn Doyle

Honestly, when I looked at this book it looked like one of those misery memoirs that have become so popular over the last few years but that don’t appeal to me at all. The first few chapters didn’t dispel that notion, since the maternal care provided to Evelyn and her five younger brothers is entirely neglectful and just appalling. However she really doesn’t wallow in that, and is quite positive about the convent care she received, and never negative about that of her brothers (who were in an entirely different establishment many miles away), which considering all the child abuse scandals laid on the Catholic Church and its institutions in Ireland and elsewhere was almost a surprise! Here it’s the Irish state policy (heavily influenced by the Church hierarchy) that are seen to be at fault, and which are battled by Evelyn’s father, to an eventual change in practice and legislation.

The book was apparently made into a film, which I’ve never seen but which doesn’t sound all that accurate to the book.

Bird Shapes

Monday, 21 February 2011

Here are two fun little journals to bring out the artist and/or birdlover in you.

Bird Book 1 Journal cover

Bird Book 1 Journal cover

Bird Book 1 Bookmooch Journal


Bird Book 2 Bookmooch Journal

These are a pair of small booklets (each page about double the size of a credit card), on each page of which is the outline of a bird. (I’m no expert, but the shape makes me think of the small garden birds commonly seen in the British Isles.) Journallers are invited to decorate a page (or more) using that outline. (Some participants have stuck their work over the top, if inspiration didn’t involve using the given outline.) It looks like the pair have so far travelled together, though they don’t need to.

There’s been a lot of very creative work done on these already, particularly in multi-media, but there are still some blank pages too. I’ve just added these to our inventory, so they’re available at the moment.

Finding yourself at home

Thursday, 17 February 2011
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Image by Timothy Valentine via Flickr

I had heard of this book, but never had the chance to read it, until someone I got in touch with on BookMooch found out I have a family connection to Guernsey, and recommended it. I am really grateful to her!

21. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

So I still haven’t written up numbers 18 and 19 on the booklist, because of their topics of war and destruction, and yet I really enjoyed this book, even though it’s decidedly set in the aftermath of war and destruction. This is an epistolary novel, and I wonder might that have something to do with it – people are telling others what happened, and there’s a certain level of reserve and protection involved, although at least some of the horrors of Nazi occupation and the concentration camps are shown clearly.

The novel is set in (or at least the letters are from) 1946 in London (with a brief tour of the British mainland) and Guernsey, where lives are being rebuilt after the horrors of war. Juliet Ashton is enjoying the success of a book based on the newspaper columns she wrote during the war, but not at all sure what she’s going to write about next, when she somewhat randomly receives a letter from a Guernsey-man who has bought second-hand a book she had sold a duplicate copy of. She is intrigued by his mentioning the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and its coming “into being because of a roast pig we had to keep secret from the German soldiers” during the island’s Occupation and continues the correspondence both with him and other Society members. She also continues to correspond with old friends and others, and we are thus given a fairly rounded picture both of her and the Society.

I laughed out loud at several points, and cried a couple of times. The voices are distinguished (some more than others, but there’s a level of realism in that) and believable, and the characters are worth caring about (even the ones we might love-to-hate). Considering the lack of contact between the Channel Islands and Britain during WWII itself, the level of explanations required for the modern reader without specific local knowledge of the history is reasonable, and eye-opening. Another area for me to look into the ‘real’ history!

This is one I’m pretty sure I’ll be rereading more than once.

Happy days

Monday, 14 February 2011

While my baby’s still sick (although out of hospital) I don’t feel like discussing novels of death and destruction, so for the first time I’m going to skip around in the 2011 reading list and go straight to a fun and friendly children’s book.

Cover of Here Comes Charlie Moon

Cover of Here Comes Charlie Moon

20. Here Comes Charlie Moon by Shirley Hughes

I’ve been looking out for some of Hughes’ beautiful books for very young children, but came across this novel of hers first, and thought I’d see what it’s like. I’d expected illustrations, and in fact every single page of this chapter book has a unique and appropriate picture at the top, but the story isn’t bad either.

Charlie Moon lives with his Mum in a big city, and to save him being bored underfoot over the summer, she sends him to stay with his Auntie Jean, who runs a joke shop in a Welsh seaside resort, Penwyn Bay. His older cousin Ariadne (12 years old to his 10) is similarly staying with their aunt, and while the two wind each other up a bit they’re really very good companions and then friends. Neither Auntie Jean nor her neighbour and ex-colleague Carlo Cornetto are doing all that well at their tourism-based businesses, since the other end of the bay is where the modern attractions are, but Charlie and Ariadne still manage to make themselves some friends, foil the local bullies, and help to revive their Auntie’s and Mr Cornetto’s businesses through a series of quite plausible adventures.

At a guess, this’d be a good one for 8-12 year olds to read themselves (boys or girls), and good for reading aloud so long as everyone’s close enough to see the line drawings, which aren’t all that large.

Gifts of Water

Monday, 7 February 2011

I like water. It’s my preferred drink, and a medium I’m pretty comfortable being in, too!

BMJournal: Water Water Everywhere and Not A Drop To Drink

I’m only the second recipient of this journal, but it’s one I’m going to enjoy filling in, I believe. I touched on my watersports experience in discussing the Surfing journal but there’s a lot more to say on that, as well as on other related topics. There’s a given space here to recommend books about water, the ocean and more, and some of the books I’ve discussed here recently seem relevant, particularly The Sea Kingdoms, Dolphin Island, and perhaps Landfall. Shogun is a possibility, too. There’s a whole lot of space in this book, which has roughly A4/Letter size pages, and a good number of them, too. The first few pages have things stuck to them, too, and if that continues the book will become bulky and made need thinning of blank pages. That’s not a worry yet, however.

Cover of The River that Gave Gifts

Cover of The River that Gave Gifts

17. The River That Gave Gifts: an Afro American story by Margo Humphrey

I’ve been wanting to try really reading a book from the International Children’s Digital Library for awhile now, and this seemed like a good book to try, as it’s got beautiful bright full page pictures and text and a story aimed at children who can read absolutely confidently. The delivery system certainly works very well, and I mostly enjoyed the book as well, emphasising as it does the ability of all to use their own skills and talents to provide for others. I do think the moral (about making use of one’s own talents, even if those of others are more generally recognised, and showing respect to elders)  is possibly laid on a bit more thickly than it needs to be, but that’s not necessarily a problem. Obvious morals have the advantage of being reasonably clear to an accepting reader, where hidden morals run the risk of being insidious.