Blog Layout Poll Result

I recently had a poll up about what kind of blog lay out people preferred. I have often wondered whether I went with the right choice on the 2 column lay out, but for me, having a wider post space was always something that I wanted to prioritise. I wondered what other people thought about, so I started a poll about it.

The options were:
  • 2 columns - the post section is wider
  • 2 columns - it's more simple
  • 3 columns - less post space but it looks better

The results were:
  • 11 people voted for 2 columns because the post section is wider.
  • 11 people voted for 2 columns because it is more simple.
  • 8 people voted for 3 columns because it looked better.
Now, in this poll you were able to vote for more than 1 option at a time, so I am assuming that given there were 11 votes for each of the 2 column options, then it is likely that it was the same 11 people voting twice.

Which means that:
  • 11 people preferred 2 column blogger layouts and
  • 8 preferred the 3

I know this is not ground breaking stuff, especially in such small numbers , but I have to admit that I found it interesting. Lets face it, when it comes down to it, it's all personal preference isn't it!

Weekly Wrap Up


Join in my fun Friday meme:

This week hasn't been a big one either. I have been preoccupied with my impending hospital visit, which is actually happening today. I am not sure when I will be able to use the computer again and I haven't scheduled anything either, so please bear with me until I am feeling a little recovered.

I only did two reviews this week:
I also finished the Classics Challenge 2010 and wrote a post about the legal action over the ownership rights to Franz Kafka's works. I have recently read that permission was granted to the Israeli government to open Kafka's Swiss bank vault and they have started going through the material.

Thanks for dropping by everyone and I hope you can all bear with me through my recovery period.


It is hosted at Crazy for Books. In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and find new book-related blogs that we may be missing out on! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, 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!

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. (Thanks to Rose City Reader for inspiring this meme)

Jurassic Park by Michael Chrichton

This novel seemed an apt choice after my experience with The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith by Peter Carey. I needed something easy and exciting that didn't offer a challenge - and Jurassic Park is all of those things. Here is the first sentence:
"The tropical rain fell in drenching sheets, hammering the corrugated roof of the clinic building, roaring down the metal gutters, splashing onto the ground in a torrent".
This opening line isn't the best I have ever read, but it sets to scene of where this story will take place (somewhere with a tropical climate, but somewhere relatively far from any city or big town centre given the corrugated roof) and also the pace of the book. It starts off with a strong and fast action (the pouring rain) and that is the pace at which this book moves. It's a deluge, just as what is about to happen at Jurassic Park is a comes as a deluge to those that are on the island.

What about you? Leave a link to your Book Beginnings on Friday post in the Mr Linky below.  

The Book of Lost Threads by Tess Evans (An Australian debut)

This review was first published on Book Lovers Inc; a wonderful blog worth having a read of.

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The Book of Lost Threads is a pleasant and enjoyable debut novel by Australian author Tess Evans.

The book is about four miss-matched friends; Finn, Moss, Mrs Pargetterand Sandy. Moss is 20-something woman born to a lesbian couple who is struggling to come to terms with her identity. Finn is the 'anonymous' sperm donor who fathered her. He lives in a small country town called Opportunity, next door to Mrs Pargetterwho is still struggling to cope with the still birth of her child 40 years previously and who has been knitting tea cosies for the UN for several decades. Sandy is Mrs Pargetter's nephew and he has his own family's history to make peace with.

Together they help each other comes to terms with whatever it is that they have each been struggling to come to terms with.; love, guilty, loss.

The characters and their stories were really endearing, especially the story involving Mrs Pargetter and her tea cosies.  It that sense, it was a sweet read, if not a literary masterpiece. The book did attempt to deal with big issues; love, death, family. I particularly admired Evan's having written about the child of a same-sex relationship. This is not a common theme amoungst many books that I have read, and I appreciated that Evans was willing to write about something different. It was refreshing to read about a family that wasn't your typical one, but at the same time you shouldn't read this book and expect any deep analysis of the issue.

Sometimes the characters did feel a bit caricature-ish and the story a little far fetched. I particularly didn't connect to Finn's story about the events that acted as his motivation for moving to Opportunity and living as a hermit.  The time that he spends in the monastery and his subsequent return their in his apparent time of need (which I think was quite overdone) all seemed particularly artificial.

All in all though it was an endearing, easy read. I felt myself going along for the ride with the characters and I enjoyed myself.


What kind of read is this?
Quick, easy and light hearted.

Do I recommend this book?
Yes. I wouldn't recommend prioritising it, but it is good if you are looking for something easy and heart warming.

Would I recommend buying this book?
Probably not, the library would do just as well.

Star Rating

5 / 8

Good and worth reading if you have the opportunity, but there is no need to prioritise it.

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!

If anyone would like to participate email me at

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Today I am featuring Sarah from Loving Books. I discovered Loving Books some ago and have really enjoyed reading Sarah's posts. It's a very simple, easy to read blog and at the moment she is hosting a great Harry Potter Summer at Hogwarts Read-a-Long.

1.Tell us something about yourself:

I'm Sarah. I'm about to start my last year of college. I'm an American in love with British comedy, history and of course books!

2.What was your favorite book as a child or young adult, and why?

As a child I had a hard time with reading. It turns out all I really needed was glasses, and badly! Unfortunately I didn't get a real eye test until I was 11. At that point I was a little too mature for children's books and was at a loss for what to read. About a year later someone recommend that I read Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. I was only about 12 but I fell head over heels in love with it. I picked up everything else Tracy Chevalier had written at the time and followed her to other historical writers. I started Harry Potter later that year and haven't stopped reading since.

3.Why do you love to read?

For me one of the best parts of reading is being transported somewhere else. I like being able to put myself in someone else's life for a few hundred pages and just go with the flow. With books you can move through time and space with just a turn of a page, and can use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

4. How do you choose your books?

I'm a picky eater but when it comes to books I'm pretty open. I am a member of a few communities on Livejournal and follow enough blogs here on blogger that when I see a review that peaks my interest I put the book on my TBR list. I do read a lot of historical fiction, and lately a lot of books inspired by fairy tales, but I try to keep a good balance between general contemporary fiction, historical fiction and classics. Pretty much the only thing I stay away from is Science Fiction. I just can't get into it.

5.If you had to narrow it down - who would be your 3 favorite authors and what would be your 3 favorite books?

I change my favorite authors ever few months depending on what I've been reading and what mood I'm in, but a few have stood the test of time and keep me checking amazon for new releases.

1. Jonathan Safron Foer - I have yet to find something Foer has written that hasn't mesmerized me. From short stories to Everything is Illuminated I'm just in love with him. I saw him speak about Eating Animals (which I haven't read) at the Harold Washington Library last November and I was so impressed. He really is an amazing man. His wife, Nicole Krauss is also an amazing author, but she doesn't make my top 3.

2. Milan Kundera - I'm not sure what it is about Kundera that makes me love him. In fact he has written some things I have flat out hated, but when it comes down to his work there is always something haunting and memorable. After I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being I was in a daze for days. Immortality gave me a hard time, but some of his ideas still make me think over a year later. He's really not for everyone, but I'll still pick up anything with his name on the cover.

3.J.K. Rowling - I'm a Harry Potter geek, as my blog these past few months clearly shows. I love how Rowling created a world. Not just a few places and characters but an entire world. There isn't much I can say about her that hasn't already been said, but I grew up with Harry Potter - the last book came out the summer I graduated high school - and she'll always be on my list.


1. Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier - wonderfully written, about 2 girls living by a cemetery in turn of the century London. My favorite of Chevalier's books

2. Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger - I love the Glass family. I have big plans for a future dog named Zooey (to go with the one I currently have who is named Buddy)

3.Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - by far my favorite of the incredible series. It has love, history, horcruexs! What else could I ask for?

6. When and why did you start your blog?

Loving Books was started in September of 2009. I started it because I wanted a place to keep all of my reviews so I could look back over what I've read. Before I was posting all of my reviews in my livejournal, but since I am in the middle of a 10 year blog everyday project my reviews were getting lost because i'd forget to tag them. I didn't start actively trying to be a part of the book blogging community until earlier this year, but I'm very glad I did!

7.How did you choose your blog's name?

My blog is called Loving Books. Really it just shows my lack of creativity when I created it a little under a year ago but I like it. It's simple and to the point. My blog is really all about loving what I'm reading so I think it still fits.

8. What do you love about book blogging?

I really love the community atmosphere. There are so many awesome bloggers out there with interesting takes on books I love and on books I've never heard of. I feel like I can always find a fresh perspective on a book or just fun little tidbits by looking through the blogs I follow.

9. What tips do you have to offer to other book bloggers?

Really, the best advice that I can give would be to keep blogging. Find meme's and challenges and blog about them or create your own events - just something to break up book reviews. And of course to have fun. What's the point of blogging if you're not having fun with it!
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I hear so many wonderful things about Tracy Chevalier, which I noticed is the author of one of your favourite books. I haven't read any of her books yet, but I do have The Virgin Blue sitting on my TBR shelf just waiting for me. I also like that you say one of your favourite things about reading is being transported somewhere else. That is one my favourite things too. I feel like I'm not here when I am reading, I am in the place that I am reading about and that is a really nice feeling.
Thanks for participating and I hope everyone takes the chance to discover another great blogger.

Legal action over Franz Kafka's works

I read a really interesting, if short, article in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday that I thought other people might interesting. I discovered that when Kafka passed away, he entrusted all his manuscripts to his friend Max Brod to destroy upon his death.

Mr Brod did not, however, destroy them as requested. Instead he kept them and published them. Mr Brod then bequeathed them to his secretary Esther Hoffe. The original documents were left in the vaults of Swiss Bank UBS for safekeeping.

Now there is a legal action over who holds ownership rights to the documents. Brod fled the Nazi regime in 1939, and emigrated to Israel. As a result, Israel are claiming they the documents are the property of the state of Israel. On the other hand, Esther Hoffe's sisters are now saying that they hold ownership rights of the documents since their sister Esther passed away.

Two things strike me about this scenario:

The first, is just how 'Bold and the Beautiful-esque' this seems. It seems so surreal to think that there is crazy battle over ownership between a country and two women who are so far removed from Kafka himself.

The second thing is this; I can't help but wonder what Kafka himself would make of it. He is often thought of as one of the most talented writers there has ever been. Metamorphosis is often described as one of the most brilliant pieces of literature ever written. And yet here we are in 2010, having a soap opera worthy legal battle over ownership of original manuscripts that Kafka wanted destroyed.

What do you think Kafka would make of this?

Do you think that we should still read the works that were posthumously published, knowing that he didn't want this?

Teaser Tuesday: The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith by Peter Carey

The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith by Peter Carey

This book is written by one of Australia's most famous and talented writers, Peter Carey. Although I found his book, The True History of the Kelly Gang, absolutely wonderful, I am now having a bit of difficulty with this one. It is so strange, and has such a strange energy about it that I almost feel a bit suspicious about it. Suspicious of what exactly I am not sure. But it is undoubtedly one of the most unusual books I have ever read.

Here is my teaser which is from page 184:
"I sat up in my own private dusty dark and recited bits of Shakespeare to the empty seats - Richard the Third - you would not have understood a word I said, but you were not there, Madam, Meneer, and your pity did not tarnish the glamour of the role."
Tristan talks to this "Madam, Meneer" throughout the book and I have yet to determine who or what exactly she is. I will be look forward to reading your teasers.

If anyone is looking to read a review of another Australian book, check out my review of debut novel The Book of Lost Threads here.

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Teaser Tuesday 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 Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage is a exhilarating and tense post-apocalyptic story that spans the decades before and after a virus has been released by the US Military and destroyed the world as we know it.

It begins as a tapestry of stories from different characters perspectives. We read about a single mother, fighting to raise and support her daughter by waitressing and selling her body to unknown men. We read emails written by a scientist from a jungle in Bolivia, learning that he is known as the ‘vampire guy’ and is on a strange and difficult journey with the military. We get closer to the crux of the story when we are introduced to Agent Wolgast, who’s job it is to convince death row inmates to participate in a military owned scientific experiment, and to then ensure that any record of that person’s existence is wiped entirely. The story then takes a climactic turn when he is asked to kidnap the daughter of the single mother that we meet at the books opening.

It is at this point too that we finally meet the ‘virals’, who are actually humans that have been infected by a virus that makes them almost immortal, super powerful, blood hungry and ready to destroy the world as we know it.

We are suddenly thrust into a world that is unfamiliar to us as the reader. We are introduced to a post-apocalyptic community, living in a gated colony and struggling to survive against the attacks of the virals. Slowly, the stories that we caught glimpses in the early stages of the book are again woven together, and we follow some of the inhabitants of this gated colony on a journey across America, with a young girl fated to save the world, as they battle against the virals, to see if they can find any hope for future survival.

The ever changing genre of the book was sometimes distracting, but for the most part it was fast paced and extremely tense. The novels begins as a thriller, despite elements of the supernatural and science fiction. It is a race against time as FBI agents kidnap abandoned children and kill those that get in their way and the military keeps people at secret military bases and holds people hostage.

Then as we are introduced the post-apocalyptic world, it turns into more of a fantasy novel. At this stage I felt out of my comfort zone. The lifestyle, behaviours and laws of the gated colony were so unfamiliar that I initially I couldn’t identify with the characters or the story. I found it hard to adjust from this fast paced thriller I had been reading to this slow paced fantasy novel. It became slow going and I actually considered giving up the book.

Fortunately, the story picked up again when earlier characters that has disappeared returned, and I again I became enthralled. In the latter sections of the book, it felt closer to a combination of a thriller and Cormac McArthy’s The Road, with elements of science fiction. In the end I was able to move past all the different styles and just be drawn into the action.

The book was character driven and the characters were nuanced, even if Cronin forces the nuances upon you. Everyone had their strengths and their weaknesses; their good points and their bad. In fact, the book dealt with very adult and real issues; survival, death, the effects of nuclear weaponry, disease, marriage and divorce. The issues that the characters had to deal with on a personal level and within their relationships with each other were very authentic.

Even Cronin’s depiction of the virals was nuanced. They were closer to being human that you might originally think; they were able to recognise that their actions were wrong without being able to prevent themselves from committing the atrocities that they do. The complexities of the virals became clearer as the story progressed.

Because of this, it is not really a vampire/paranormal/supernatural novel. The virals are simply humans who have been infected by a disease that has transformed them into something other than human. I feel almost uncomfortable about talking about supernatural elements and fantasy, although I recognise there are not really any other words for it. It very rarely feels like you are reading about something supernatural. Instead it feels like you are reading a possible future. I might almost be tempted to call this speculative fiction of the kind that Atwood writes (although very different story of course).

Although Cronin is obviously a talented and award winning writer, this certainly isn’t a literary novel. There is no subtlety to the writing or the dialogue. Having said that, the writing was still significantly better than what you might normally expect from popular fiction, and I think it the perfect blend of popular fiction and good writing for someone who wouldn’t normally read this kind of book (like me).

There were some things in the book that just didn’t make sense and I wish had been explained. Why hadn’t the virals the expedition met in Bolivia already taken over the world before the military ones escaped? Why did Lacey have a strange connection to Amy? Why could Amy talk to animals before she was infected with the virus (that’s not a spoiler, you find out as much in the opening line) and why does she intimate that ‘they know who she is’ when at that stage she is no one special? How could Wolgast’s partner tell that Lacey was journeying to the army facility? There were other unresolved issues throughout the story that I am sure I will find the answers to in the following novels. But these are questions that don’t seem to have any plausible answers and were just left unnecessarily unexplained.

Despite some misgivings in the middle of the book, I very much enjoyed this book. It was everything you could want from popular fiction; fast-paced, action-packed, enthralling and with skilled writing as well. There was violence, there was sex, there was love and everything in between. Don’t let the books size or genre put you off this exciting read.


What kind of read is this?
Extremely tense, genre-changing, thrilling read. It is undoubtedly extremely large, but it didn't take nearly as long to read as you might expect.

Do I recommend this book?
Yes, I really do. I especially recommend it to other people like me, who appreciate good literature. This is such a good blend of good writing and popular fiction that it is well worth a try.

Do I recommend that you buy this book?
Again, yes I do. This a book that will stand up well to re-reading I think.

Star Rating

7.5 / 8

Brilliant, couldn't put it down. Recommend that you buy it. I will definitely be reading the rest of this exciting series.

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.

Just finished

The Passage by Justin Cronin

I finally finished The Passage by Justin Cronin and I will be posting the review tomorrow so come back and read more about it. Despite some slow parts in the middle, it was a very tense read and something I would recommend to everyone. I think I would particularly recommend to other people like me who prefer literary works to popular fiction (including paranormal, fantasy) etc. This book is a great combination than the two, and more often than not it feels like a thriller than anything else. I can't wait for the rest of this series to be released.

It was so big that I haven't had a chance to finish anything else off. But I did finally post my reviews for Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.

Currently Reading

The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith by Peter Carey

This is an extremely unusual book and nothing like anything I have ever read before. I was originally enjoying it, but it has this weird energy that I am not feeling very sure about at the moment. I feel like I am mentally urging it on because the pace isn't what I would like. Having said that, the writing is amazing and I am enjoying that aspect of the book. It is a lot smaller than The Passage by Justin Cronin, but the writing is so dense it is taking me just as long to read it.

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

I am reading this on ebook but I haven't got through much of it. I am enjoying the story and the writing, but I have been so busy with my other books that I haven't had much of a chance to read it.

French Fried by Chris Dolley

This has been provided to me by the author for free in exchange for a review. I am also reading it in PDF format on my iphone. So far it's ok.

Up Next

I am going into hospital for surgery on my eyes at the end of the week so we will just have to see. I have ordered the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which I hope to listen to.

Classics Challenge 2010 Complete!

You can read all the details of the challenge at the The Classics Challenge Blog. I started this a bit late, but I still aimed for the top level of 6 classics and I am already finished! 

The great thing about this challenge was that it acknowledged that there are many different definitions of a classic book. It also encourages you to consider what your idea of a classic is by providing suggestions for classics that a beginner might like to read and an idea for a book that might become a future classic. 

I suggested that a beginner might like to start with The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, and the We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates might one day be considered a classic. I completed the top level of Classic Feast - 6 books:

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Timeless Land by Eleanor Dark
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Flatland by Edwin A Abbott
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

I am sure that I will read many more by the end of the challenge. Join in the challenge if you love classics!