This Blog Is Moving!

This blog is soon to move over to louiser89.com. I decided that I wanted more flexibility in what I could do with the site, so I have transferred to an externally hosted server, but it’s still running on WordPress, so you can head over there now and follow my new site to make sure you continue getting updates about my new posts. It all looks a bit basic at the moment and there may be one or two things not running quite right, but I’ll be spending as much time on it as I can to bring it up to scratch.

Thanks!

louiser89.com

Review: Brad Paisley – Diary of a Player

Brad Paisley - Diary of a PlayerI’ve been wanting to read this book since it first came out a couple of years ago, but I’d never been able to justify the price (with it being an American book and not widely available in the UK). But my brother bought me it for Christmas this year and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Brad Paisley is one of my favourite artists, and definitely one of my favourite country artists. His music is beautiful and inspiring, but also funny and catchy. I was pleased to find out more about the man behind the music. The book was primarily about his influences and the people who inspired him to become a musician, starting from his Grandfather buying him a guitar for Christmas, right through to meeting these country music legends and being honoured with the ability to play right alongside them.

As well as finding out a lot about Brad Paisley, this book also gave me a small insight into how the country music world works, and it’s a lot like I expected. It seems like no matter how famous you are, you’re still supportive of those up-and-coming artists who are looking to make it as big as you.

The book lets you in on Brad’s personal life too, for example the crazy story behind how he met his wife. But the part of the book that stuck with me the most was the end when he describes how his Grandad died, the biggest influence on his life taken too early and before he could see the success that he inspired. I’m not ashamed to say that I cried when I read this part.

This was a really well written auto-biography, it seemed very personal and friendly, almost like you were sat down with him listening to him reminiscing on the past.

5/5

Review: Linda Green – And Then It Happened

And Then It Happened - Linda GreenMel Taylor thinks she’s got it all, an amazing house in Cragg Vale, a beautiful daughter, and most of all – a husband with whom she is completely in love. But she’s always waiting for something bad to happen, thinks it must be too good to be true.

And then it happens. While Adam is working at the museum, he’s stood under the huge dinosaur skeleton when some building work causes the skull of the dinosaur to come crashing down on him. Mel receives a phone call to say that Adam is in the hospital, and when she gets there, her husband is in a coma.

The story follows Mel’s efforts to get Adam back to the man that he used to be – starting off with getting him out of a coma. She believes that he is there and can hear everything she can say, even though she is doubted by almost everyone else (including the doctors).

The book wasn’t quite what I expected when I saw the front cover, it was a lot more serious. It was loosely based on a number of true stories (as explained by the author in the back of the book), but at some points, I did find it a little hard to believe. I know that there is always the exception to the rule, but this story seemed to be full of miracles that made it slightly unbelievable. But I suppose that’s what a good book is supposed to make you do, believe in the impossible.

I did enjoy the book, the writing was fast paced and the plot was full and well thought out, so I just didn’t want to stop reading, especially when it got within 100 pages of the end. I won’t spoil the end of the book, but I will say that it wasn’t how I expected it. Although I’m kind of glad it didn’t end how I expected it though!

Not bad for the first book of the year, and I would definitely read more books written by Linda Green.

4/5

100 Book Challenge? – It Definitely Was!

Well I set my self a lofty total of 100 books in 2012, which turned out to be a little too high. I made it to 67, but I’m still quite happy with that. I started off the year with the best intentions and I managed to keep up until about June. And then Cameron moved back from Huddersfield and I was round at his house or going out more often, and the books kind of stopped flowing (I only read one book in July). I managed to pick it up again a bit later in the year but it wasn’t enough.

I’ve really enjoyed it though, I’ve tried a lot of books this year that I would never have thought to read thanks to recommendations from awesome people, sci-fi and fantasy are two genres that I’ve never really read before but will definitely be trying again.

I saw this ‘Best of Books 2012′ survey on one of the book blogs I read, so I’ve pinched it for my challenge review.

Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
I think this comes down to two. For pure magicallity and captivation, I’d pick The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. It was completely different to anything I’d ever read, but the story of little Faina was both mesmerizing and heartbreaking at the same time. In terms of hard-hitting plots and something that stuck in my head for long after I finished reading, I’d pick When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. The plot wasn’t easy to read, but extremely well written and brilliantly thought provoking.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen would definitely qualify for this. It was the first book I read this year and didn’t really set the tone right for the other 99 books I planned to read. Since I’ve read it I’ve heard a lot about Franzen and how good he is supposed to be, but I found this book way too long and I just couldn’t get any connection to the characters. I’d had high hopes for the book but it left me feeling very disappointed.

Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
This would definitely be Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds. I was leant this book with the assurance that it was really good, but I’d never read any sci-fi before and I had no idea what to expect. But it was amazing, fast paced and full of nail biting moments that kept me gripped until the end. I’ll definitely be reading more Reynolds this year.

Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
This would probably be The Hunger Games (I, II and III). I loved it when I read it and a few people I know have also read it and enjoyed it too, including my dad who usually reads sci-fi and crime books, but loved how easy to read the trilogy was.

Best series you discovered in 2012?
This would probably be The Hunger Games too. I loved it when I read it, and the only other series I have read this year were by Charlaine Harris (Lily Bard and Aurora Teagarden), which were less enthralling that I expected.

Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
I’ve discovered so many new authors this year that it’s hard to pick just a few, but I would probably say Kristin Cashore, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, S.J. Watson and Hillary Jordan.

Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
There’s two books that I would pick for this. Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds and Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Both new genres, but both completely amazing and left me definitely wanting to read more sci-fi and fantasy.

Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
This was definitely When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. The plot was so shocking and so different from what I’ve read before, but also so heart-wrenching that I just couldn’t put it down once I’d started reading.

Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year
Considering the length of my ‘to-be-read’ list, I don’t think I’ll be re-reading any books next year. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’ve got so many more books waiting for me!

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
If we’re talking about favourite appearance of a book, I’d say either The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, with it’s lovely black-edged pages and beautiful artwork, or When She Woke by Hillary Jordan with it’s striking picture of a girl staring at you, combined with the bright red-edged pages.

Most memorable character in 2012?
This would have to be Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, although this is probably combined with the fact that the film has just come out too. But I loved that I got to know the character before I saw the film, whereas I’ve already got a fairly good picture of The Lord of the Rings, so when I read it earlier it won’t be my own creation.

Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
Definitely The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, absolutely enchanting.

Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?
This is a hard one. I’d say it was probably The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. It made me think a lot about the impact you can have on other people with even the smallest actions.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
Definitely A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I’ve really got no idea why I’ve never read this before but it was great to finally read it.

Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?
This would definitely be from The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom: “Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
The Longest books was Century Rain by Alistair Reynolds at 640 pages. The shortest was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at 104 pages.

Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It?
Not much really springs to mind for this question, but I did have to talk to my friend straight away at the end of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, because it didn’t end how I expected it to!

Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
This would definitely be the relationship between Victoria and Grant in The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

Favourite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
Definitely Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris – one of my favourite authors and the latest book in the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series did not disappoint.

Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else?
Two books: Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds and The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.

So that’s my 2012 reading challenge over, not quite as successfully as I hoped but I’ve discovered some amazing new authors and tried books that I never would have dreamed of trying. Next year, I’m not going to aim for a specific number, but I do have in mind a lot of books that I want to read. Some longer ones that I couldn’t read this year (like LOTR and Anna Karenina), and some classics that I want to try, like Little Women etc. I’ve got a list of the top 200 books as voted by BBC readers. The list was voted in 2003, but it contains a lot of books that I do want to try, so my aim is to fill up this list a bit. I’ve read 49 from the list so far, so lets see how far I can get!

If you had a reading challenge last year, or you’ve set yourself one this year, let me know in the comments below!

2012 Blogging Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

My Year in Pictures

Well as it’s coming to the end of the year, I guess it’s time to start writing all those ‘year in review’ type posts. First up is a collection of my favourite pictures from the year, it’s been a busy year with lots of awesome memories made and lots of pictures taken!