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About Ruth

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    Mega Bibliophile
  • Birthday 07/09/1972

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    Running, reading, theatre, weight training

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  1. A-to-Z bookish survey tag

    Thanks Athena I know I don't post so much these days (life gets in the way) but I still like to look at the forum and see what everyone is reading when I can.
  2. A-to-Z bookish survey tag

    Oh I love this kind of thing Here are my answers: A — Author You’ve Read The Most Books From: Paullina Simons and Adriana Trigiani - without checking, I think it's pretty much an even tie between these two. B — Best Sequel Ever: Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons. I loved the first book in the trilogy - The Bronze Horseman - and thought the second one might be a letdown by comparison. It definitely wasn't! C — Currently Reading: American Tabloid by James Ellroy. It's an interesting read, especially to anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes machinations of the Kennedy administration. D — Drink of Choice While Reading: Coffee if it's during the morning. Diet Coke if it's in the evening. E — E-Reader or Physical Book?: Physical book. I don't have or want an e-reader. F — Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Dated in High School: Probably a moody teenager like Holden Caulfield. I wouldn't have the patience for him these days! G — Glad You Gave this Book a Chance: Quite a few that I'd put into this category. I recently read The Paradise Trail by Douglas Campbell. It had been on my tbr shelf forever, and I eventually just picked it up on a whim. I loved it! Also A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry...this book was picked out as a choice in real-life (if that makes sense) book club. I groaned when I saw it - it just looked so big and I didn't think it would interest me, but it ended up being one of my favourites of all time. H — Hidden Gem Book: Hmmm, I don't know if I'd really call it a hidden gem but I'm going to say The Girl In Times Square by Paullina Simons. Nobody else I've met seems to have heard of it, but it was one of those books that I just could not put down. I — Important Moment in Your Reading Life: I think possibly joining LibraryThing, and also joining BCF even though I don't post that often. J — Just Finished: Well, I haven't just finished it, but the last book I read before my current read was Snow Hill by Mark Sanderson. K – Kinds of Books You Won’t Read?: Generally speaking, horror and sci-fi. I don't mind horror when it is a psychological horror, but monsters and ghosts etc don't interest me. L – Longest Book You’ve Read: Gone With the Wind - it was totally worth it though. M — Major Book Hangover: I don't really get these. The nearest examples I can think of are Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean, and Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon. N — Number of Bookshelves You Own: Six. But each of those has multiple shelves and they are mostly stacked double. O — One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times: Emma by Jane Austen. P — Preferred Place to Read: The armchair in our living room. Q — Quote that Inspires You and Gives You All the Feels: Honestly, I don't think I have these. There are several Shakespeare quotes I love though. R — Reading Regret: None. I've always read loads and still do. S — Series You’ve Started and Need to Finish: None. T — Three of Your All Time Favourite Books: Trying to pick different books than those I've already mentioned in previous answers, I would say... ​The Richard Burton Diaries by Richard Burton (obviously!) - such an intelligent, funny man. These diaries make for fascinating and absorbing hours of reading. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. U – Unapologetic Fangirl/boy for: Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. V — Very Excited for this Release More than Anything: None. I don't tend to look out for coming soon books, I like to browse ones that I can have straight away in bookshops! W — Worst Bookish Habit Making myself finish every single book I start even if I am really not enjoying it. X — X Marks the Spot – Start at the top of your shelf and pick the 27th book off it: Beside Myself by Anthony Sher Y — Your Latest Book Purchase: I bought nine books last week (ahem ) I Saw A Man by Owen Sheers The Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff Oliver Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout Second Life by S J Watson Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben I See You by Clare Mackintosh All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker Baby Doll by Hollie Overton Z — The Zzzzzzzzzzzzz Snatcher Book (Book That Kept You From Sleeping): American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, but mainly because at that time I lived on my own, and it made me too terrified to go to sleep!
  3. Shaun Hutson. I read a book by him which was pretty awful, and then I went onto his blog and he just came across as the most rude man! I won't touch any more of his books. Also, Ali Smith - I read The Accidental by her which was really highly acclaimed, but I just could not get into it.
  4. Favourite Author

    Jane Austen Adriana Trigiani Sarah Waters Margaret Atwood It's sheer coincidence that they're all women (in fact I'd not really realised that my favourite authors were all female before now). I go through phases with other authors too - Tracy Chevalier and Philippa Gregory spring to mind.
  5. Ruth - 2015

    The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex, by Mark Kermode After reading two of Mark Kermode's books (and thoroughly enjoying both of them), I was really looking forward to reading this one - where Kermode discusses (or rants) about the state of cinema today, or at least the state of Hollywood blockbusters today. I wasn't disappointed - when it comes to film criticism or film discussion, Mark Kermode is pretty much my go-to author. He's funny, honest, self-deprecating, and makes a lot of valid points. In various chapters, Kermode talks about how blockbusters basically cannot fail to make a profit, no matter how bad they are, and crucially, no matter how bad their reviews are. He uses the much maligned film Pearl Harbor as an example - as much as it was trashed by critics and the public alike, it still turned a profit. Basically if a film has a big name star, and appears in cinemas even if only for a short time, it will make money - if not on the big screen, then certainly on DVD. So, if blockbusters can't really fail no matter how bad they are, then why not make a really good one? In other chapters, Kermode discusses 3D, which has been trialled and trashed several times before, but which keeps rearing it's ugly head (thanks for that James Cameron), and even questions what use film critics actually are to the industry. The most entertaining chapter for me was where he discussed the recent trend for Hollywood to remake foreign language films - often drastically changing characters, setting and indeed storylines - and why the often vastly inferior remakes still do better in cinemas than the original 'source' movies. Anyone who has listened to Mark Kermode will be able to hear his voice in their head while reading this book - he is an intelligent and passionate narrator, and makes his points eloquently, and with a lot of humour. He is clearly in love with his subject, despite all his complaints about the current state of cinema, and this makes for an engaging, entertaining rant, all in the style of a conversation which you could imagine having in a pub while downing a few pints. In essence - if you like Mark Kermode's radio show, or have enjoyed his previous books, or indeed just enjoy reading about cinema or Hollywood in general, then I would definitely recommend this book.
  6. Every so often I have a clear out of books I've read and won't read again, or books that I bought and which no longer appeal to me. I box them up and take them to a charity shop near where I live.
  7. Ruth - 2015

    The Sisterhood, by Emily Barr I’ve read novels by Emily Barr in the past and always enjoyed them. However, it had been a few years since I’d tried one, so when I picked The Sisterhood off my shelf (where it had been languishing for SEVEN years!) I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it – after all, tastes change and I know that mine have. My fear was unfounded however – after a slow start due to my own time constraints, I rattled through this book and found it hard to put down. Without giving too much away, the premise is as follows: London: Liz Greene’s relationship has just fallen apart in a horrible and irrevocable manner. Depressed and lonely she has a one night stand and becomes pregnant. Bordeaux: Helen Labenne and her brother Tom have just discovered that their mother had a child years before they were born. Bored with her privileged lifestyle, Helen decides to go to London to track down her sister Elizabeth Greene… The book may start off in almost a chick-lit style, but it becomes apparent early on (and should already be apparent to anyone who has read Emily Barr before) that this is a much darker story, with sinister undertones and plenty of tension. It’s clear from the beginning that Helen has some issues, and an unconventional way of looking at things, but as she begins to insinuate herself more and more into Liz’s life, it gets twistier and creepier. Unfortunately I can’t say much more without giving away spoilers, and spoilers can really ruin a book like this. However, I can say that the book is told from both Helen and Liz’s points of view – they take alternating chapters – and later, Helen’s mother Mary also narrates some ‘flashback’ chapters. As the story builds to its climax, there are some huge twists – including one which I definitely saw coming, and one which I most definitely did not! Overall, a very enjoyable read and one I would recommend to fans of psychological thrillers. My only niggling complaint is that the prologue does kind of give something away unnecessarily, but other than that I liked this book a lot.
  8. Ruth - 2015

    Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe This collection of letters from Nina Stibbe to her sister Victoria spans five years (1982 – 1987), and begins when 20 year old Nina moves from Leicestershire to London to become the live-in nanny to Sam and Will, the two young sons of editor/journalist Mary-Kay Wilmers. Reading like a cross between Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones (as the letters do form a diary of sorts), this book is extremely funny (frequently) and frank. I particularly loved how almost every letter contained snippets of information between Nina, Mary-Kay, Sam, Will and other people (including, frequently, Alan Bennett who was not only a neighbour, but also a very regular visitor to the house). I did start to make notes of some of the funniest parts, to quote in this review, but when I realised that there were parts I wanted to quote on every couple of pages, I had to stop otherwise I would have been making notes as much as I was reading the book. As well as liking Nina very much, I also loved Mary-Kay, Sam and Will, who were all clearly intelligent and quick thinking. Nina was – by her own admission – not brilliant at cooking or cleaning, but clearly the family felt that she fitted in with them perfectly, so much so that even after she stopped being nanny to the boys and left to pursue a Literature degree, she subsequently moved back in to live with them. It’s true that the letters contain a lot of the minutiae of family life, and often not much at all happens, and some reviews have been critical of this, but for me part of the attraction of the book was precisely that, and the fact that Nina could make such humdrum events so amusing. I would highly recommend this book, and already know that I will be buying some copies of it for Christmas presents.
  9. Ruth - 2015

    The Third Wife, by Lisa Jewell Adrian Wolfe seems to have the perfect life. Although he has two ex-wives with whom he has five children altogether, everybody gets along well, and even all go on holiday gather with Adrian and his third wife Maya. But when Maya steps in front of a bus and dies, after an evening spent getting uncharacteristically drunk, Adrian’s world falls apart. A mysterious woman named Jane appears to be stalking him, his children all seem to be going through personal crises, and then he makes a discovery which causes him to question whether Maya’s death was really the accident he had thought it was, or whether she might have done it deliberately. As the story moves between present day and flashbacks, secrets are revealed, and the veneer of the perfect extended family starts to crack. I really enjoyed this book, and read it in two sittings. I thought the storyline seemed believable, even the unconventional relationship between the family. The characters were also very well drawn, and although I didn’t particularly like some of them (Adrian himself seemed charming but ultimately irresponsible, always leaving one woman when someone better came along, but somehow managing to keep relations harmonious), they were certainly easy to find interest in. The mystery part of the novel – without revealing spoilers all I can say about it is that it revolved around whether Maya killed herself deliberately or not, and what might have driven her to consider it – also added an element of tension, which kept me turning the pages. I was genuinely surprised by the ending, and it’s always pleasant when that happens. The story segues perfectly from a family drama to a psychological thriller and back again, and it was one of the few books which I didn’t want to put down and kept thinking about going back to to read some more. Very highly recommended.
  10. Ruth - 2015

    Brando's Smile: His Life, Thought and Work, by Susan Mizruchi This biography of Marlon Brando is somewhat unusual in that it concentrates mainly on his professional life and personal philosophy, rather than delving into details of his personal life. After describing Brando’s childhood (with a loving but alcoholic mother, and an overly strict father), Mizruchi goes on to talk about his career in acting, and discusses many of his most famous film roles. She describes his attraction to a role, his preparation for it, and how he went on to become a character, as well as other details about the making of each film. In each case, Mizruchi draws comparisons between the character or storyline of the film and connects it back to events in Brando’s own life. For that reason, this book is not the one to read if you are looking for Hollywood gossip or salacious details about Brando’s many relationships and often difficult personal life. Indeed, while his career is detailed in relatively chronological order, you would struggle to learn anything else about his life that is not already a matter of public record. For example, Mizruchi mentions his marriages, but does not give any details about the relationships or why they didn’t ultimately work out. However, I found that somewhat refreshing, as instead, I learned far more about Brando’s beliefs, his humanitarianism and his parts in civil rights campaigns, which he clearly felt passionately about. Mizruchi had unprecedented access to Brando’s own personal book collection, which numbered around 4000, and which – as we are frequently reminded – he annotated heavily. She uses such annotations, as well as his varied choice of reading material to draw conclusions about the man himself. The sheer vastness and variety of the collection does support her view of him as an intelligent and curious man, who found enjoyment in learning. Overall, I definitely enjoyed this book. As mentioned before, I did not learn an awful lot about Brando’s personal life, but I certainly learned more about what was important to him, his views on acting and his determination to leave the world a better place than he found it. At times, it is a little sycophantic – there’s no doubt that Mizruchi is a devoted Brando fan – but it is a respectful, interesting and clearly very well researched biography. I would recommend to fans of Marlon Brando, or fans of the film making process.
  11. Ruth - 2015

    Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts, by Mary Gibson Mary Gibson’s debut novel takes place between 1911 – 1919, and revolves around Nellie Clarke, one of the ‘custard tarts’ who works at Pearce Duff biscuit factory in East London. It begins with her meeting the charismatic Eliza James, who encourages female factory workers to strike for better wages and living conditions, and follows Nellie through the first world war, as she sees the young men in her neighbourhood go off to fight for their country. As Nellie is just sixteen at the start of the book, the story sees her grow up and have to work hard to keep her family safe and together. She faces numerous challenges, both romantic and financial, and has to make the transition from child to adult very quickly. I think the book was well written, and it certainly seems that the author has done a lot of research about the era. There were quite a few twists and turns, and while some parts were predictable, there were some surprises along the way too. Having said that, it didn’t ever completely engage me, although I think that is more down to my personal taste – I’m not really a big fan of cosy historical sagas, which I would categorise this as, despite the fact that it demonstrates the hardship of Nellie’s life, and the effect of the war upon her and her friends. Nellie though was a likeable central character, as was Sam Gilbie, a young man who played a very central role in the story, and even if it was not really my kind of book, I still found myself reading large chunks of it at a time. If this is the kind of genre that you enjoy, then I would certainly recommend this book, but on a personal level, while I enjoyed it in part, I am not sure that I would try another book of this type for a while.
  12. The Last Film You Saw - 2015

    Everyone Says I Love You. I only watched this film because Tim Roth is in it, and I wasn't sure whether I'd like it or not - basically it is a modern day musical, made by Woody Allen - but it is absolutely charming and lovely. What a cast too - Alan Alda, Goldie Hawn, Edward Norton, Drew Barrymore, a young Natalie Portman, Julia Robert, the aforementioned Tim Roth, and of course Woody Allen too. I adored it
  13. Willoyd's Reading 2015

    Willoyd, did you ever see the TV adaptation of South Riding - it's about five years old I think, and I remember enjoying it. I have the book, but haven't read it yet, but will have to bump it up the mountain. Thanks for the great review
  14. Poppyshake's Reading Year 2015

    I'm pretty sure I've got this somewhere...I'll have to try and find it. I'm a sucker for books with dogs because I am dog mad. Great review, thanks Kay x
  15. Ruth - 2015

    My Everything, by Katie Marsh Hannah has decided that today is the day she is going to leave her husband Tom; their once happy marriage has disintegrated to such a point that she feels they can no longer work things out, and she is looking forward to following her dream of teaching in Tanzania. But today is also the day that Tom has a stroke and Hannah feels that she cannot leave. A sense of duty compels her to remain and try and help her husband through his recovery, but as they face the future together, Tom is determined to try and fix their marriage and make Hannah fall in love with him again. This book is told in both the present day, starting with Hannah’s discovery of her husband on their bedroom floor, clearly in serious pain, and in flashbacks which show how Hannah and Tom’s relationship started and developed and subsequently went wrong. I really enjoyed both storylines, and really enjoyed watching how these characters found and lost each other in the confusion of starting new jobs, moving into a new house and dealing with all the other problems that life can bring. I thought both Hannah and Tom were pretty sympathetic characters – although Tom has clearly not been treating Hannah well prior to the start of the story, we the reader only ‘meet’ him at the time of his stroke, and the flashback chapters do serve to illustrate his point of view, so he is not quite the awful person that he could have been if the story were only told from Hannah’s point of view. The first part of the story actually made me cry as I tried to imagine the terror and uncertainty that both Tom and Hannah would feel as he had a stroke at the young age of 32, and realised that life might never be the same. The writing flowed well, and I gobbled up huge chunks of the story at a time – I had to stop myself from peeking forward a few pages at times, which is always the sign of a good book. My only slight criticism would be I wasn’t overkeen on some of the other characters. I liked Tom’s friend Nick, but his sister Julie and Hannah’s friend Steph were irritating (and Steph felt at times like a bit of a cliche). However, I feel churlish even really pointing this out, because overall this was a moving and absorbing read, which I would highly recommend. This is Katie Marsh’s debut novel, and I look forward to reading future books by her.