Monday 12 May 2014

Bout of Books 10: Days 1 and 2

Day 1: Monday 12th May

It's been a while since I've taken part in a readathon - in fact, it's been a while since I've blogged at all. I've been reading and watching plenty, but been in a bit of a reviewing slump and haven't been able to think about much to say about my books. Hopefully, writing a little bit about my reading each day for the readathon will help me get into that frame of mind again. But it will be only a little bit, for two reasons: firstly, I'm working full-time this week. (This is a good thing: I am only on a part-time contract, and overtime has been scarce in the past few months. But why did it have to be this week?) Secondly, Ruby, my faithful red laptop, has developed a screen condition and due to the aforementioned long week, I shan't be able to see my computer-doctor cousin Jeremy until Friday at the earliest, so will have to rely on borrowed computers for all blogging purposes. Still, this has its benefits in that most of my readathon time will be spent, well, reading, rather than internetting the day away.

My Books

I've selected a range of books to choose from this week and do not expect or intend to read all of them. My target is 3 or 4.

1. Blood and Chocolate - Annette Curtis Klause

This will be a reread. I first read Blood and Chocolate about ten years ago, when I developed a soft spot for werewolves (for which we can probably thank Remus Lupin.) This predates the current version of human/non-human romances, and the protagonist is the female werewolf who falls in love with a human boy. I don't remember a lot about this one. I bought this copy from Ellie's shop last year.

2. The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch

This has been on my radar since its first publication, and last year a lot of my blogger friends started raving about it, pushing it right up my wish list. Around the same time, it turned up in The Works on a 3 for £5 offer. It was a no-brainer.

3. From A Buick 8 - Stephen King.

This is a King I have no foreknowledge or preconceptions about, except that presumably it involves a car. Another The Works find.

4. The Player of Games - Iain M. Banks.

I tried the first of Banks's "M" novels about the Culture during a Bout of Books last year, and to be honest I struggled somewhat with it. I've since found out that The Player of Games is generally considered a better introduction to the series, and so I'll give him a second chance. (I also have one of his "M-less" novels on my to-read pile, though that has not made the readathon shortlist.)

5. The Charioteer - Mary Renault

I'd never heard of this one before its striking cover caught my eye earlier this year. Apparently yellow covers are the way to go! The story of a gay soldier during World War 2, apparently this was quite a daring and groundbreaking novel when it was published in 1953. I'm really looking forward to this one.

6. Goodnight, Beautiful - Dorothy Koomson

I love Dorothy Koomson. Her books are marketed in edible-looking pastel covers, but they prove that feminine does not mean fluffy, and they can be hard-hitting and thought-provoking. The Rose Petal Beach was a thriller on a par with Gone Girl. Read Koomson, but don't expect a "light" read.

7. The Cuckoo's Calling - "Robert Galbraith."

Interesting how, when the first Cormoran Strike book was believed to be penned by an unknown, its RRP was £16.99, and now it is known to be written by J.K. Rowling, the publishers have put a price of £20 on the sequel. Huh. I bought this on special offer after "Mr Galbraith's" true identity was revealed (incidentally, on the same week as the paperback of her Casual Vacancy) but did not want to read it at the same time as my Harry Potter reread. It's been kind of forgotten since then. Maybe I'll correct that this week.

9PM: What I've been reading

It made sense for me to start the readathon with the book I was most excited to read, The Charioteer. The hero, Laurie Odell, is a decent, good-natured and slightly eccentric young man, who we meet first as a small child and then as a schoolboy, before launching into the main plot which commences after he has been wounded at Dunkirk. He befriends Andrew, a conscientious objector working at the hospital where Laurie is convalescing, and the narrative is brimming with tension as they grow closer, not daring to speak of or act upon their feelings for fear that they have misinterpreted the other's. The Charioteer is proving to be a thoughtful, intelligent and compassionate work of art that is way ahead of its time, and I'm enjoying spending this time with Laurie.

Monday's stats:

Number of books started: 1.
Number of books finished: 0.
Books read today: The Charioteer
Number of pages read today:  202
Favourite book so far: The Charioteer
Quote of the day: "When you feel less superior it seems you feel more lonely." - Laurie, page 85.

Day 2: Tuesday 13th May

Today has not been a good day. My very first customer at work was a woman who on her last visit made such a nuisance of herself that I ended up close to having a panic attack, and in a voice like poisoned honey, she referred back to that incident, not buying anything, apparently coming in for the express purpose of reminding my supervisor and myself of how unpleasant she was. My second customer wasn't much better...

I've only had one day off in the last week, and it's two more days until the next one. I am tired, and when I get tired, that's why I let my defences down and the negative, destructive thoughts creep in. Why can't they make way for something more positive; a silly crush or ridiculous daydreams, for a change? Why are positive emotions so much more hard work than the negative ones? It was my ex's birthday last week, and getting in touch with him again, even just to say "happy birthday" via Facebook reminded me of all the things that even five years on have power over me. Memories - good and bad - still pop up out to jab at my brain and hurt me as if they were brand-new. I should be long over it by now.

At least I have my book. I'm aiming to finish The Charioteer this evening, although it feels like a book I really ought to take my time over. Still, I've no doubt it's a keeper. Our hero Laurie is finding himself caught between two worlds; not a love triangle precisely, but he is divided between the close friendship with the innocent Andrew, who is still on the verge of figuring out the potential of their relationship, and the older, more worldly Ralph Lanyon, who had been a prefect at Laurie's public school, and a bit of a hero to him. I really hope this story has a happy ending.

Tuesday's stats

Number of books started: 1.
Number of books finished: 0
Books read today: The Charioteer
Number of pages read today:  180 
Favourite book so far: The Charioteer
Quote of the day: "I'm not prepared to accept a standard which puts the whole of my emotional life on the plane of immorality." - Alec


  1. Locke Lamora! Locke Lamora! Locke Lamora! THAT ONE.

    It's possibly not really read-a-thon material though, to be fair. It's fairly dense and heavy, at least at first. Don't get me wrong - it's AMAZING and I loved it more than life, but it's a slow read. You have to keep going with it though. I really wanted to give up on it until about half way through, but I promise it's worth it.

    I got that Stephen King book from The Works too :) It's not particularly high on my TBR though, so I'll let you read it first and then I'll decide after your review!

    1. Yes, I remembered yours was one of the recent rave reviews. I'm not sure whether I'll read it for the readathon, but I'm definitely planning to get around to it sooner rather than later. And I saw another Stephen King in The Works today - Full Dark, No Stars, which I think is short stories or novellas. Didn't buy it, but may well do so if it's still in there next time I go in.

  2. HA! I was just thinking, "Oh yeah, Blood and Chocolate, I had a copy a while back but do I still have it?" The answer, if you bought it from my shop, is NO... because you have it. :D

    The Works is pretty good for 3-for-£5 books at the moment. It's definitely having one of its better spells this spring! Good luck for day 2...

    1. That doesn't surprise me, Ellie. I think you said you used to own half of the books I bought from you that time. :D

  3. Ohhh sweetie, I'm sorry you've had such a sucky day! I had a woman like that at the bookshop too - she came back TWICE after the first time, and like your charming customer, she was so awful that I was basically a nervous wreck for the rest of the day. All the hugs and lovely things after that, you deserve it. xx


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