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31 March 2014

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Peter Boxall
Cassell Illustrated
Publication Date

Not so much a review, but rather I would like to introduce this book which is one of my favourite book compilations and a must for every bibliophile.

This book lists, as the title says, 1001 books which have been influential or stand out in any other way. The editor Peter Boxall is a Professor of English at Sussex University in the UK. The books are listed chronologically and start with Pre-1700 with Aesop's Fables (which I have actually read I can proudly announce!). The following 900 pages cover 1700's, 1800's, 1900's and 2000's. At the end, there is an author index and general index with a title index at the beginning for easy searching. 

Each book is introduced with basic details (lifespan, first published when / by whom (if applicable), language of first publication, original title. Than, a brief synopsis (about 200 words) of each book and in some cases, the 'story' of how the came the book about. Not all of them, but some are drafted so as to not contain a spoiler. I have found some to contain spoilers which are not announced. While the main focus is on books from the English speaking countries, there are also many books from other (mainly European) cultures featured. In many cases, there is also a small accompanying picture - especially in the later centuries when we have pictures of authors and maybe movie posters available.T

This is wonderful collection of all the classics and modern classics and I could get lost in this compilation for ages. I admit that there are many books I've never heard of ...There is only one very obvious downside to this book. My book was published in 2006, and it of course stops with books published in 2005. The last book features in my compilation is actually Never Let Me go from Kazuro Ishiguro which is one of my favourite all-time stories. I know that there is now an updated version of the book available, but really I don't see the point for me now, as I presume that all the older books are the same? 

This surely is the perfect present for any book lover, but make sure you make sure they don't have it yet… I would guess they do. 

This is the updated version:

30 March 2014

Celebr8 Success
Gill Donnell MBE
Publication Date
29 Jan 2014

How to be a successful working mum without the guilt

Honest? First I was sceptical. I previously found self-help and motivational books not very .. helpful. Or they make me even more guilty because I don't seem to manage what everyone else does easily - at least after reading the self-help book. Be a successful working mum without the guilt? As soon as someone says 'Don't feel guilty as a working mum', that's exactly what you will do, don't you? It's build into us. 

The opening chapter changed my opinion about the book straight away:
Have you ever been on a holiday - one of those relaxing, two-week, gloriously sunny breaks (pre-kids) - and suddenly seen your life with fierce clarity? You just know that, when you return home, everything is going to be better organised, more fun and far less stressful., because while you've been away you have seen the light.
It's very similar to the feeling you get when you attend a course that addresses your personal development; the feeling that it could change your life. All of a sudden, you can see the right way to bring up your kid; how to support (or otherwise) your partner; and how to have a truly fulfilling life from that point on. Then, somehow, you get sucked back in to the pressures and demands of everyday life, and all those good intentions evaporate like last year's New Year's resolutions. 

That's me! I mean - that person on holiday who comes back and is so motivated and thinks 'yes, I can do this, I get it all organised'. And it's worse when I come back from my mum's. I feel so motivated to be a super-organised  and self-assured person, and within one week after the holiday it's all evaporated. Hey, others seem to manage, why not me? 

And that's where the author tells you: Hold on, stop there. You don't actually have to be perfect. Whatever that means. And being successful doesn't always mean being the CEO of a company. Small steps. Smile. Try being more assertive with family members first. Get positive people on your side. So true isn't it? We all have people in our life who just seem to moan and groan and being negative about everything. I remember a particular friend of mine (this is several years back now). We went on holiday together and it just so didn't work, everything was like: No, too late. No, too early. No, too dangerous. No, too expensive. … Next holiday I went on my own and had a great time! 

Coming back to the book - it is written with a lot of humour and interwoven with examples from the authors life. She was herself at some stage a single mum of twins whom she calls Drama and Crisis which made me giggle. There are so many examples where I recognised myself. For example, if you read a job advertisement and they list 6 skills you have to have. Lets say you have 5 of those skills. Well, I wouldn't apply. Would you? 

Every chapter also has a quote at the start, and one of my favourite one is this one from Eleanor Roosevelt:
'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent'

I am not too keen on the cover, but this is just a me, as the bottle of champagne reminds me too much of New Years Eve? 

For a self-help motivational book, this was a surprisingly entertaining and very uplifting read. If you recognise yourself in this opening chapter, give the book a go. 

Book received from the author in return for an honest review. 

From Amazon:

About the Author 

Gill Donnell is an experienced leader, motivational speaker and coach, who has spent much of her working life promoting the role of women in the workplace and supporting individuals to achieve their full potential. As a speaker, Gill uses life experiences and humorous stories to inform her audiences. Many of the women who have attended her development courses over the years have talked about it as a life-changing experience. Having spent time as a successful female role model in a male-dominated organisation, while being a single mum of twins, Gill is uniquely placed to understand the challenges faced by women in the workplace. In 2009, Gill’s work on women’s development was recognised by Her Majesty the Queen with the award of an MBE.

target="_blank">The Sunday Post

This is is Meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and here are the rules.

It is your chance to re-cap your bookish week, what did your review last week, any new purchases, what will be coming up in your blog next week or generally anything you feel you would like to share with the blogging community.

So, what did I do last week? 

This week now we catch up here in the UK and the UK Summertime starts today (Daylight saving). As much as I like having the extra hour of daylight in the evening, it will be a right pain getting up early tomorrow morning. I usually get up at 5am for work during the week, so it will feel like getting up at 4am. Pain. I guess there will be a very tired Peggy for the first few days next week. 

It was payday this week, and my husband and me have this little tradition what we go to our favourite Spanish bar on the Friday after payday. I usually drink nothing more than 1 or 2 glasses of Sangria and let the world go by. 

Finish - Start

No finish this week - I'm still reading the book I started last week Under the Dragon's Claw by Alex George. It is a longish book, and outside my 'comfort zone' but I definitely enjoy it. Takes me and my commute on a fantasy ride. 

On the blog last week


Memes / Features

Around the blogosphere / Bookish News

Microlibrary in London Lewisham (Link will take you to the Facebook Page)

I've seen this on the local news here in South East London this week - isn't this a great idea? This man (he is referred to as Seb in the Facebook page) basically bought an old red phone box for £1 and converted into a 'micro-library'. You need to see this to believe it! Yes, it's real. Apparently, the Telecom has been selling the old phone boxes off, as it would cost them more money to dismantle them etc. (in the age of mobile phones, they are sadly not needed any more). So this Seb build some shelves into it and set it up as a community micro library. No locks etc, anyone can come and can just take a book. No registering etc. The only rule is that whenever you take a book, you also have to leave one. My only fear is that it will suffer from vandalism, sadly. I guess Seb goes there daily for maintenance etc. 

Added to my stash

Nothing. Yes, seriously, I didn't get anything. No purchases, no freebies, no review books. But I'm quite glad actually, because I still have quite a few books for review to read (which have priority) and than a lot of books which I've just wanting to read for ages and they look at me longingly every day :) incl. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Rosie Project by by Graeme Simsion and Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. Your time will come… :) 

What I'm planning next week for the blog


Celebr8 Success: How to be a successful working mum without the guilt by Gill Donnell MBE (non-fiction)

1001 Books you must read before you die by Peter Boxall (non-fiction)

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

and continuing my regular Stephen King feature with Rose Madder 

Memes / Features:

Late April Fools. What was the best prank you’ve played or had played on you? Share!

  • My first 3 months as a book blogger / my favourite posts so far

Have a great week my dear bookish friends.
Peggy x 

29 March 2014

I've found this in a book I've had from the library (Opening the book by Rachel Van Riel and Olive Fowler - see my Review of this book). 

So, what kind of reader are you? Or is it not possible to define us readers in that way?

Below passage is copied from the book:

The Thrill Seeker

wants the page turner, the gripping yarn, possibly with an element of horror or the supernatural. They like situations outside their own reach or experience - blizzards, plagues of giant locusts, submarines, the jet set of life. They want a white knuckle, roller coaster read, hanging on till the end of the title. They need to experience real fear and tension in a controlled environment. They will get through it in big chunks, often reading late into the night to finish it.

The Stressed Out Reader

feels temporarily fragile; perhaps because of pressure at work or recent illness They are looking for a safe read which won't expose them to huge extremes of emotions. They like attractive settings and contained environments; adultery in provincial towns, a legal thriller, a nostalgic sense of community. The read will be spiritually soothing, with an undemanding, level pace. Stressed out readers want a comprehensible narrative which doesn't jump about too much, set in an understandable world with characters they can relate to and a satisfying solution. They like to know where they are with it and to be able to pick it up and put it down as the mood takes them.

The Avid Reader

who'll have a go at anything i the addict who will read the back of the timetable or a label on the jam pot if there's nothing else going. They feel naked if they haven't got a book and are likely to have more than one book on the go at a time. They don't like to have preconceptions about a book, they want to just get into it and see what it's like. Avid readers might not always finish a book but will never give up easily. You might see them reading anything from a light thriller to a contemporary experimental novel. If they enjoy a book by a particular author, they are likely to read everything by the same author in one fell swoop. They have a big reading appetite, with a broad taste.

The Self-Protective Reader

doesn't want to invest an effort which won't pay off, so they need to be sure they'll get what they want from a book. They are more likely than any other kind of readers to have a favourite genre. Self-protective readers can't wait till their favourite author has a new book out and will already have their name on the list for it at the library. They won't be fobbed off with imitations and are convinced that no other kind of book will deliver exactly the right buzz. They probably read less than they might because they are waiting for new titles from established favourites.

The Ambitious Reader

has limited time for reading and wants to make the best use of the time they've got by spending it on something worthwhile. They are always on the lookout for a book that will give them depth of insight and the excitement of a different perspective. They choose a ore stretching read even if it lies unopened beside the bed for months afterwards. When they finally pick it up, they will persevere because the rewards can be so great. If a book doesn't match up to expectations, this will never stop them trying something challenging again because the next one might be it

The Indulgent Reader

is a person for whom reading is sheer luxury. They might buy a book on impulse or hoard something special up as a treat. They want to read a book in exactly the right conditions; sitting in the afternoon sunshine having a lazy lie-in, soaking in a bubble bath, with enough privacy to enjoy it and sure of no interruptions. They may need something to go with the book; a glass of wine, chocs, a favourite piece of music. They could be reading anything, it is the circumstances and how they feel about the book, not what the book is. 


I think I am indeed a mixture of several of theses, and it also depends on the book I'm reading? Mainly I am a thrill seeker I think, fitting in with my favourite genres of horror and dystopian. Yes, I love to be taken to a different world and experience that roller coaster ride with the characters.  Sometimes I a probably a stressed out reader where I want 'home comforts' when I know what I'm gonna get in a book - but generally I love to be surprised in a book more than get comfort from it. I am also definitely an avid reader - yes I do feel naked without a book and on the other end, feel that I'm ok wherever I go as long as I have a good book with me. That's why commuting doesn't bother me, neither waiting at the doctors etc - all VIRT Very Important Reading Time (Have I just invented this???) 

I'm not so much a self-protective reader. I don't mind so much what I'm reading really and don't just insist on my favourite genre/author (though I do have that of course and would get all books from my fav author). Ambitious Reader? Not sure, I don't specifically seek challenging book. And the Indulgent reader? Well, wouldn't it be great if we could read all the time at our favourite setting - mine would probably be by the beach? But that's just not realistic for me and I'd rather read wherever. 

My dear bookish friends, what kind of reader are you are what do you think about this 'classification'? 

Book of the Dead
Patricia Cornwell
Publication Date

A Kay Scarpetta Novel 

This is the 15th Scarpetta Novel. Once again, Cornwell does what she does best, taking Forensic Pathologist Scarpetta to solve a murder.

From the blurb:

The 'Book of the Dead' is the morgue log. The ledger in which all cases are entered by hand. For Kay Scarpetta, however, it is about to have a new meaning.
Fresh from her bruising battle with a psychopath in Florida, Scarpetta decides it's time for a change of pace. Moving to the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina, she opens a unique private forensic pathology practice, one in which she and her colleagues offer expert crime scene investigations and autopsies to communities lacking local access to competent death investigation and modern technology. It seems like an ideal situation, until the murders and other violent deaths begin. 
A woman is ritualistically murdered in her multi-million-dollar beach home. the body of an abused young boy is found dumped in a desolate march. A sixteen-year-old tennis star is found nude and mutilated near Piazza Navona in Rome.
Scarpetta has dealt with many brutal and unusual crimes before, but never a string of them as baffling, or as terrifying as the ones before her now. Before she is through, that book of dead will contain many more names - and the pen may be poised to write her own.

For fans of this genre, this is a must read - the same schemata as always, with the forensic pathologist Scarpetta investigating violent and unusual murders which seem to follow her, and this is interwoven with the personal life of Scarpetta and those close to her, particularly her niece Lucy (nice to see a gay character). A host of characters who all play their part, including the mad psychiatrist Dr Self and creepy funeral directors who have stuff to hide. Part of the appeal of series like this who have been running for a long time and with many books is the familiarity. You know what you are going to get. If you are expecting something new and revolutionary here - don't. The book kept me hooked though and guessing 'whodunnit' to the end. Cornwell certainly knowns how to create suspense. 

One thing you may need to be aware of is that there is child abuse / child murder in this book, which can be hard to stomach at times (some direct descriptions of the bodies). So if this upsets you, you may want to approach with caution. I suspect that if you do read this kind of novel you may be ok with this sort of thing but I thought I give this little warning. 

Oh, and we actually really do have a handwritten log in our mortuary of the bodies coming in…. It's mainly a log to say when they came in, in what fridge, any clothing/jewellery and than it gets 'crossed out' when the body gets clearance from the Coroner to leave. I don't think we call it the book of dead though. 

28 March 2014
Feature and Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Head over to their blogs to check them out. 

Feature and Follow is exactly what it says… a weekly feature of two chosen blogs, and a question or a task for us to participate in. 

This week's featured blogs are : Monique @ Mo Books  and Nikita @ NJ Kinny 
so check them out as well.

The aim is to get new followers to your blog and, of course, follow other blogs out there and get to know other bloggers, browse their blogs, leave comments and find stuff which interests you. For me, apart from books of course, this is what book blogging is all about - connect with others and chat about our favourite hobby.

The rules are all explained here in detail by Parajunkee.

This week:
Snap it Time! A picture is worth a thousand words. Anything and anything. Just give us a pic

Snap time? Ok, I went out in my lunch hour today today to take a few snaps right outside the front door of my place of work. And…. I thought I can give you a bit of literary history about the English writer Charles Dickens. The street were I work is located in the London Borough of Southwark, and right next to our office court building is the old prison wall of Marshalsea Prison.  Dickens' father John was imprisoned there in 1824 for dept, and it made a lasting impression on Charles Dickens. A few of his books feature this prison, and his book 'Little Dorrit' is wholly set there. 

This is the wall of the old prison (only the wall remains), and the building with the green windows is actually the court where I work (you can see my co-worker's car :) 

And here are some plaques on the footpath leading through the alleyway. 

Hope you enjoyed my little journey into history 

Peggy x 

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26 March 2014

Stephen King
Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date

When I typed 'Insomnia in books' into Amazon, a whole hosts of book came up on Sleeping disorders (and the Stephen King novel was about 10 books down the search). I can only image what debilitating condition insomnia is, and I have to say that I am very lucky that, as soon as my head hits the pillow and the light/Kindle is out, I'm asleep. On the few occasions that I did suffer from insomnia - mainly because something important was going to happen the next day and I just couldn't get to sleep - well, it was just awful. So I can't possibly imagine how people deal with it who have to cope with it almost every day. 

But coming back to the Stephen King book with the same name, King himself has admitted that he suffers from insomnia. 

I have purchased and read this book quite a few years back and would like to review / list it here today as part of my ongoing Stephen King feature / collection. 

Another of King's book which is set in the (fictional) town of Derry, Maine. The main protagonist in the book is Ralph Roberts, a man in his 70's who has recently lost his wife. He starts to suffer from severe insomnia which seems to be getting worse and worse, and he wakes earlier and earlier. Than he starts to see hallucinations, auras around people, and he thinks he is losing his mind due to lack of sleep. But is good old friend is also not quite right, being strange and downright violent when he used to be a very mild-mannered man. Than Ralph starts seeing little man in black coats who seem to want to help him, but there is also a bad one. It's almost like his lack of sleep awakes other senses in him which make him see things which others can't see. And it is not pleasant what he starts to sees in his home town and it looks it is up to him to rescue the town.

I didn't enjoy this book as much as some of King's books. And I can't even put my finger on it exactly. The book is quite long, almost 800 pages. The loved the beginning and Ralph's descent into the severe insomnia was credible and I was keen to see what's going on. But, in my opinion, it does seem to get a bit difficult to understand what exactly is going on and I couldn't quite entangle and make sense of the story in the middle I suppose. Maybe I would need to re-read it. What I did like though is that the main 'hero' of the story is a senior citizen of over 70 years. Hurray for that - you don't see that very often! 

25 March 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro is hosted by bibliophilebythesea.

This is how it works: Write down either the first paragraph of a book your are currently reading / intending to read or read in the past and share with us. I do like a good opening!

I want to introduce non-fiction book today:
Celebr8 Success by Gill Donnell MBE.
The author is a motivational speaker, coach and motivator and one of her main aim is to empower woman. The tagline of the book is: How to be a successful working mum without the guilt.

Have you ever been on a holiday - one of those relaxing, two-week, gloriously sunny breaks (pre-kids) - and suddenly seen your life with fierce clarity? You just know that, when you return home, everything is going to be better organised, more fun and far less stressful., because while you've been away you have seen the light.
It's very similar to the feeling you get when you attend a course that addresses your personal development; the feeling that it could change your life. All of a sudden, you can see the right way to bring up your kid; how to support (or otherwise) your partner; and how to have a truly fulfilling life from that point on. Then, somehow, you get sucked back in to the pressures and demands of everyday life, and all those good intentions evaporate like last year's New Year's resolutions. 

What do you think, is this a book for you? 

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should be reading. 

These are the rules  (taken directly from MizB's blog:)

• 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!

Extracts from Celebr8 Success by Gill Donnell MBE

Loc 182
Start small: pick something you want to be able to do well, and practice that skill. Maybe it is developing the ability to deliver a presentation in front of a team, or finding the confidence to tell your sister that you really don't want to spend yet another Christmas with her. 

Loc 236
When it comes to young women and their body image, be aware of how you usually take about your body in front of your daughter and stop those negative comments. Research has shown that 93 per cent of American woman at college engage in what is called 'fat talk' with their friends:
"I really shouldn't be eating this…"
"This dress makes me look fat."
"Do my hips look big in this?"

Peggy x