Book Blogger Hop and Weekly Wrap-Up



ABOUT PAGE TURNERS

I have had a massive week here at Page Turners. I have been posting a fair bit because I have been home from work with a chest infection which I am still trying to shake off :-(

New Design

More importantly, Page Turners has a new design! Some lovely blogger out there in the blogosphere has done a wonderful job making me a beautiful header and button and I have been tweaking the design of my blog to make it look new and fresh.

I want to do a proper thank you post when I have finished playing around with my blog... so for now the wonderful designer (cough cough Rachelle from Bibliobabe), will remain a formal mystery.

I would love your input on the design. I have chosen the template I like, I am just having trouble with the colours. You might have noticed if you are a regular visitor that Page Turners has been all colours of the rainbow - green, red, purple. Today it is blue. I just can't decide!! I am actually thinking of going back to the original green I had with the orange post titles. Anyway, eventually I will figure it out and when I do there will be a big announcement and thank you post to the person responsible.


Weekly features

For those of you who haven't been here before, have a read of the "About Page Turners" page and check out my two features; Lights Camera Blog Action and Book Beginnings on Friday.

Reviews

I did 2 reviews this week: Silk by Alessandro Baricco and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I really like both reviews so make sure you check them out if you have a chance.

I now have 2 outstanding reviews: I still haven't written my review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and I have also read The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson this week.

General Discussion

As I was sick most of this week, I had a lot of time to lots of general posts about various literary and blog things.

I did a post about the new design on Page Turners and gave away some blog awards.

I did a couple of polls about bloggers use of sidebars and book purchasing habits and posted about the results of those polls.

Lastly, I had an epiphany about my rating habits and participated in a fun Q & A about my reading habits, which anyone can join in on.

ABOUT THE HOP

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Crazy for Books. In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all book bloggers and readers a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on!

So, I created this weekly BOOK PARTY where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start PARTYING!!

If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!!

Book Beginnings on Friday

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.

Thank you to Rose City Reader for giving me the idea for this meme. On Rose City Reader you will find 'Opening Sentences of the Day' so please have a look at this wonderful blog for further opportunities to share opening sentences.
 
Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville
 
         "It was a wild night in the year of Federation that the birth took place."
 
I love it. It says a lot about the book. The wild night seems to suggest that the birth is portentous. Not only that, it seems to suggest that whoever has just been born has been marked for a somehow unique life.
 
I am really enjoying this book which I am pleased about, particularly as I had a few problems with the last Grenville book I read. 
 
Anyway, over to you. Post a link to your Book Beginnings on Friday post in the Mr Linky below.  
 

Fun Q & A for everyone about reading habits

I saw this Q & A at A Literary Odyssey and thought it was pretty cool. Couldn't help but participate. I am not sure where it originated sorry, but it seems that it is doing the rounds at the moment! Join in if you want to.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack:


Nope. I mainly read on the train on the way to and from work, so no eating for me. Even if I am reading at home, I'm not much of a snacker.

What is your favourite drink while reading?

Again, as a train reader, there is not a whole lot of drinking going on, but if I am reading at home, I will usually be reading with a nice big cup of black tea, Lady Grey is my favourite.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I definitely don't write in them. It doesn't horrify me, but I definitely wouldn't do it. I have no problem with folded corners, but not writing.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

Definitely dog ears. I fold away. I do have a beautiful bookmark I got for Christmas last year from my sister-in-law, but I lose bookmarks like it's going out of fashion, so dog earing is safer for me. Plus it gives the book that loved feel.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?

Fiction. I very rarely read anything non-fiction, even biographies etc are rare for me to read.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I can stop anywhere and pick it up again without a problem. If I am reading before bed, I usually will promise myself that I will only read 1 chapter so that I can actually put it down and get some sleep. But other than that I will read until I have to put it down, and I can stop anywhere and find that point again immediately.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

I would never throw a book. However, if I am totally irritated, I would throw it down on a table. If I am on the train I would close it and put it on my lap in protest. It's rare though.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

No. I can usually figure it out depending on what's happening in the book. If not, I wouldn't look it up.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville, an eminent Australian author. This is probably her most famous book and I am enjoying it so far.

What is the last book you bought?

That's really hard. I went to a book fair recently and bought 2 whole boxes of them. Some of the books in those boxes were Silk by Alessandro Baricco and Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

I sort of read one book at a time. I have the main book that I am reading. But I also have an ebook on my iphone that I have going and read whenever I don't have my book with me. And I read a different book that I am very familiar with right before I go to sleep. If I read new books before I go to sleep then I can't stop.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?

Nope, whenever I can get the chance. I do like reading at the local cafe though with a coffee.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

I do enjoy series, but I suppose stand alone's. It is hard to keep up with series sometimes.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

Yes. I am always recommending Isabel Allende, Margaret Atwood and Richard Flanagan. I am also always recommending The Time Travellers Wife, and many others.

How do you organize your books? (by genre, title, author's last name, etc.)

I have absolutely no organisation system at all. At most, size order - what fits best on the shelves.
 
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Can't wait to see what other people have to say!

The results are in on sidebars

Thanks to everyone who participated in my most recent poll - all about the use of sidebars and how much attention we all pay to them. And the results are in.

31 people placed their votes and:
  • 18 of them pay some attention to the sidebar on a blog, they skim the whole thing to see what's there,
  • 7 people pay lots of attention to the side bar and find lots of interesting things there,
  • 4 people come a close third, saying that they pay no attention whatsoever to the sidebar, and lastly,
  • 2 people only pay a little attention to the sidebar, but only to the extent that they have a look at the widgets closest to the top.
I was surprised that the last option only got 2 votes, because that it probably where my habits are, although sometimes it depends on the day and how much time I have, then I might in the group with the 18 other people.

Thanks for sharing your habits! New poll coming soon.

Lights Camera Blog Action


This is a special feature dedicated to spreading the word about the other great blogs that are out there! I have found a lot of great blogs through such features and I want to be able to share some book blog joy too!

Today I am featuring Kathy from The Literary Amnesiac. I only discovered this blog very recently, but I am enjoying reading the reviews very much and I hope that everyone else enjoys them too. 

Tell us something about yourself
 
My name is Kathy and I am a reading addict. I like some other things too, but I'm pretty sure my only addiction is books. And chocolate. And sleep. I used to take everything literally (that's my mom's fault) but my husband helped me realize that if someone says their old car "ran like a scalded dog," that doesn't mean it tucked its tail between its wheels and dove under a bush while pitifully bawling, "yipe yipe yipe" . . .

What was your favourite book as a child or young adult, and why?
 
I have always loved the Chronicles of Narnia. My parents gave me the set for my 9th birthday and I've read all 7 so many times that I've lost count. I will never forget how once, when reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe aloud, I misspoke and said that Father Christmas "crapped his whip" . . . much hilarity did ensue.

Why do you love to read?

I love to read for the same reason that I love the Chronicles of Narnia. This certainly doesn't happen with all books, but when I find a really good one, it's almost as if I become a part of it. Books transport me. I love it when books absorb me completely. I love it even more when books make me think. Funny how someone else's writing can teach you more about yourself.

How do you choose your books?
 
I select books like a starving man at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I always have my eyes and ears open for new titles and authors. On the other hand, I'm somewhat picky. I will almost always read a synopsis before deciding whether I want to read a particular book, and if I don't think I'll like it based on that synopsis, I'll rarely give the book a chance. Many of my TBR books came from the BBC's "100 Best Loved Books" list, and quite a few of the more recent additions have come from other book blogs. 

 If you had to narrow it down - who would be your 3 favourite authors and what would be your 3 favourite books?
 
Three favorite authors: Sam Taylor (I've only read two of his books, but they were both thought-provoking and absorbing), Henry James (I love the way he delves into the varied incarnations of the Victorian psyche), Geraldine Brooks (she has an incredible way with words and weaves a story masterfully). Three favorite books: (I'm going with my 3 favorites of the past year, as I'm really bad at superlatives and I just don't think I am capable of choosing three all-time favorites) The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor, Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. 

When and why did you start your blog?
 
I started my book blog almost exactly one year ago, mainly to serve two purposes. First, to help me remember what I have read and what my thoughts were on each book. Second, in hopes that I would find other people who have read some of the same books, so I can hear what they think too.

How did you choose the name for your blog?
 
I first called my blog "Books I'm Reading," until I noticed how boring that was. Then I went with "Reading Frenzy," not being bloggishly suave enough to realize that someone else already had a blog by that name. "The Literary Amnesiac" is part shout-out to one of my three favorite reads of the past year, part reference to how easily I forget what I have and haven't read.

What do you love about book blogging?

My favorite thing about book blogging is gathering my thoughts on a book into a cohesive form. Who would have ever thought I would come to love writing book reports?? It's also super-cool and pretty exciting when I get comments.

What tips do you have for other bloggers?
 
Oh gosh, tips for other book bloggers? I would think you all have way more tips for me than I have for you. I do have certain things I look for in a blog I'd like to follow, but I may be the only one, so don't go changing your blog just for me. BUT if you are looking to please me, here are three things I like in a book blog: #1, posts (which are not too short, but not too long!) are mostly about books you've read, and the posts about your Great Aunt Margaret's crock-pot recipes are kept to a minimum; #2, the layout isn't so busy that it's confusing and scares me away; and #3, you have a brief but descriptive section that explains what you're up to, which makes it easy for me to figure out if I'll be interested in the majority of your posts. It certainly doesn't hurt when I see a blogger has good taste in books (meaning we've read a lot of the same ones, of course). ;)
 
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The Time Travellers Wife is one of my all time favourite books as well. I cry every time I read it, even though I know what's coming. I can also identify with what you say about changing the name of your blog. I changed mine a few times before Page Turners was born.

Thanks for participating in Lights, Camera, Blog Action, I hope everyone takes the time to have a look at The Literary Amnesiac. 

If anyone else is interested in participating in Lights, Camera, Blog Action then please send me an email to the pageturnersbooks@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Lots of changes in the air here at Page Turners


Yes, this is still Page Turners that you have come to... just a very different looking Page Turners. I know that I have changed the design of my blog quite a few times (well, I think this is the 4th), and I know that a lot of people would tell me that consistency is key to a good blog.

But... well I just can't help myself. And I have to say, that I am loving the new look.

I can't take the credit... there is another lovely blogger out there who has worked miracles with my new header and button. I am not ready to make the public announcement yet, but please keep your eyes out for my next post on the design where I will give proper thanks to this wonderful and talented person.

The purpose of this initial message is just to warn people that, knowing me, I will still be making a few changes and tweaking things over the next few days, but please don't be worried. Other than the design it is the normal Page Turners where you will still find the usual features, memes and reviews.

Lots of Lovely Blog Awards


Whitney from She is Too Fond of Books has been lovely enough to pass on the Great Blog Neighbour Award. Its purpose is to day thanks those wonderful blog neighbours that pop by and make your day by leaving comments.


Elizabeth from Swords for Fighting has left me another award, the Sunshine Award.

So, although I am not going to strictly adhere to these awards rules, I am going to give out a double whammy... I am going to pass both these awards onto 5 lovely bloggers:

  1. Julie P from Reading Without Restraint
  2. Mark from Random Ramblings
  3. Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader (and more)
  4. Carin from Caroline Bookbinder
  5. Jessica from Park Benches and Bookends

Teaser Tuesday: The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Tuesday Teaser is great meme hosted by Should Be Reading and is a great way to find out about new books.Here are the guidelines: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson


I'm going to cheat a bit and give you a whole paragraph rather that two sentences, but I think that it gives you some insight into Lisbeth Salander.


"She felt that some fundamental change had taken place or was taking place in her life. Maybe it was having access to billion of kronor and not having to think about every krona she spent. Maybe it was the adult world which was belatedly pushing its way into her life. Maybe it was the realisation that, with her mothers death, her childhood had come to an end."

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I am not normally into crime fiction, but this book was perhaps one of the most gripping and thrilling crime books that I have read for a very long time.

It has a complex plot involving two separate 'mysteries'; the disappearance of a young girl, Harriet Vanger, in the 1960's and the web of corporate corruption spun by the Wennestrom Corporation.

Michael Blomkvist has been found guilty of defaming the Wennestrom Corporation and his career is shot to pieces, particularly following his sentence of 2 months imprisonment. He insists, however, that Wennestrom is corrupt, and when Henrick Vanger (ex-CEO of the family owned and run Venger Corporation) offers proof of Wennestrom's corruption in return for Blomkvist assisting him to solve the mysterious disappearance of his niece Harriet Vanger 40 years ago, Blomkvist cannot resist. To assist him, he joins forces with Lisbeth Salander, a young, rather 'gothic' girl, with behavioural problems but skills perfect for such a task.

This book didn't have me hooked from the beginning, but perseverance paid off, and from about half way through the book I was hopelessly hooked.

Plot: The plot as twists and turns that I didn't see coming. It is also a lot darker than I expected it to be, with scenes of graphic violence against women. I am somewhat immune to these things because of the work that I do, but I am sure that some people would have found these scenes extremely shocking. I certainly found them shocking, mainly because I didn't see them coming and I am not sued to reading such graphic material in novel form. However, I very much appreciated Larsson's ability to give me as the reader something different to what I am used to reading. Sometimes it good to receive a shock like that. There are many women out there who suffer from these types of violence on a daily basis while most of us sit at home enjoying our happy lives.

My biggest complaint about the plot, and why I had trouble really getting into the book, is that Larsson spent far too much time setting everything up. I think the first 1/3 of the book is about establishing who all the characters are and how they are related. I know it has a complex plot, but this did become a little frustrating.

The book is written from many different people's perspectives and I found that the way in which is went between these different perspectives so frequently was at times quite distracting.

I was also surprised at how much additional book there as after the murder mystery was resolved. I wasn't really quite as interested in the Wennestrom Affair as I was the murder mystery, but I did appreciate that Larsson really tied off all the loose ends.

Characters: The characters were well formed I thought. I really developed a sense of who they were, particularly Blomkvist and Salander. I was surprised at Blomkvist's willingness to sleep with so many people, but each to their own.

For me, it was really Salander that made the book. I know a lot of characters in the book say this about her, but I think it is very true - you really got a sense of her as the victim. Despite her bravado, her intelligence, her strength and conviction, underneath it all her weakness and her neediness (I think) were palpable, and you couldn't help but feel for her. I particularly felt for her in the way in which her relationship with Blomkvist concluded.

Although I accept that most of this review so far reads more bad than god, the way in which Larsson sucks you into the story to the point where you cannot put the book down more than makes up for everything else. This is a book that I would recommend to everyone without reservation and one that I will definitely be re-reading.

Summary

What kind of read is this?
It is a very dark read, but it is gripping. Don't be put off by it's size either, it is an easy read.

Do I recommend this book?
Without reservation. It was really deeply and darkly delicious.

Do I recommend that you buy this book?
Absolutely. This is one that I think will stand up tp re-reading. 

Star Rating

7.5 / 8

Brilliant, couldn't put it down. Everyone should read it. Recommend that you buy it. 


Book Details:  Paperback; 533 pages; published by MacLehose Press in 2008; interpreted from Swedish into English by Reg Keeland

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday, what are you reading? is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It is a chance for us to share with other book bloggers what we have just finished reading, what we are currently reading and what we are reading next.

I do want to preface this post by saying that I am very sick at the moment, and have stayed home from work to get better faster. This means that I will be in bed all day with my laptop, so if you see a proliferation of posts or comments on other blogs, that is why. 

I have also been a little productive and have reviewed at last The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. Have a look at my review. This means I only have one outstanding review to go, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 

Just finished  

The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard 
I was reading this book for a book club, so I don't want to write the review until I have been to the book club because I find it gives me new perspectives on the book. All I will say is this, I am so glad I finished with this book.   

Currently reading  

The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
I am excited to be getting into the second in this series. I only started it briefly last night, so I hope to get a bit more into it today.  

The Man with Two Left Feet by PG Wodehouse
I am still reading this one in ebook format, and I have to say that I am enjoying it. It is a collection of funny short stories, which is perfect for ebook format, because I hardly ever read my ebooks, it is easy to come back to and know where I am up to.  Plus, the stories are hilarious!  

Up Next

Tricky. It has to be Australian, because at the moment I am alternating Australian books with non-Australian. I am thinking maybe Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville or maybe Power without Glory by Frank Hardy? Can anyone recommend one of those two to me?

Book rating trends

As you might have noticed, I have developed a rating system out of 8 stars. Larissa from ...... was kind enough to design the images for me and I display my rating system in the side bar.

I don't just rate books out of whole numbers, they get halves as well. I award them an additional 0.5 when my feeling about the book is actually a combination of two star ratings.

Anyway, you probably don't need me to explain this to you.

The reason I am going into this is because I finally got around to rating every single book review I have ever done (now a total of 60) with this system. Because I only started using the star rating system relatively recently, a lot of my reviews missed out. Not anymore.

And here is what I have noticed. I am a very big on rating people in the mid-range. 15 books have 6 / 8 stars, and 12 books have 5 stars.

Then 6 books have 6.5 / 8 stars and 7 books have 7 stars. Very dense in the mid - high range.

I award full stars very rarely - in fact only 2 books of the 60 have got 8 stars. Similarly, I seem to rarely read a terrible book, with only 2 of the 60 books receiving 2 stars. None have received 1 star.

This is probably most interesting to me because it is my reading and my book reviews, but it has made me wonder... maybe I am not being discerning enough? Is it normal for all these books to be receiving such similar rating or should they be more spread out than they are? I suppose in the end it doesn't matter. I am going to rate them what I think they deserve, but it is interesting to think about.