Book Number 28: You Suck by Christopher Moore

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Yay! More Christopher Moore…

You Suck by Christopher Moore

You Suck by Christopher Moore

296 pages
Genre Fiction (Fantasy)
Tuesday 15th July – Wednesday 23rd July (9 days)
5 mornings, 2 afternoons, 2 evening, 3 nights.

Following on from Blood Sucking Fiends, I found myself reading this. We go back to Jody and Tommy, now both vampires on the run in San Francisco. In the previous book, they promised the Police that Jody and her Vampire maker would leave town, but Tommy has them both bronzed. Jody turns to mist and escapes, and turns Tommy so they can be together.

What ensues is chaotic hilarity, Tommy trying to find a minion to help them throughout the day, and picking an emo-gothic girl and her gay friend, who in turn help to narrate the story; feeding off a fat shaven cat; the animals from the store turning against Tommy to help their blue skinned prostitute friend… I could go on, but I don’t want to ruin it for you!

Weird, wonderful and hilarious, not the best Christopher Moore book I have read, but that does not make it a bad book by a long stretch – it was a hard to put down, funny read. The characters are extremely likeable, and I can’t wait to pick up the last in the series.

Next book: The Manhattan Projects 2: THEY RULE by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra, Jordie Bellaire, Rus Wooton

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Book Number 19: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

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More Neil Gaiman…

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

433 pages
Genre Fiction (Short Stories – Fantasy)
Sunday 18th May – Thursday 22nd May (5 days)
3 morning, 1 afternoon, 4 evening.

I’m relatively late to the game when it comes to Neil Gaiman. I’ve only read a few books – Good Omens was the first – but I’m trying to catch up now I’ve discovered how amazing he is.

My dad bought me “Smoke and Mirrors” for Christmas last year, and I loved it. So a few months back, with an Amazon gift card burning a hole in my pocket, I bought this. And it’s just as good.

I read a lot of this book on my own at home – which added to the creepiness of the stories, and made me enjoy it even more… and some of them really are creepy. I love Gaiman’s style of writing, and I find his imagination is so fantastic, the stories are always brilliant, interesting, and unusual.

Some specific highlights from this book include: “Closing Time” – a ghost story told by some friends in a little club at closing time… the ending really got to me on this one! “The Problem with Susan” – which I really enjoyed as the Narnia books are very close to my heart, and I’ve always thought it was very unfair that Susan missed out on heaven because she grew up and was a girl! “Goliath” was a wonderful take on the Matrix story – well written and beautiful, and “The Day the Saucers Came” which was just brilliant – I didn’t expect it at all.

I love short stories and Neil Gaiman is quickly becoming my go-to author of the moment, it’s taking most of my willpower not to go onto Amazon and order his entire back catalogue… these stories are great, and this will be on and off the bookcase for years to come to dip into or to immerse myself on a cold winter’s night.

Next book: Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Book Number 18: ‘Make Good Art’ Speech by Neil Gaiman

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Something a little different…

'Make Good Art' Speech by Neil Gaiman

‘Make Good Art’ Speech by Neil Gaiman

80 pages
Genre Non-Fiction (Art & Design)
Tuesday 20th May (1 days)
1 evening.

A small book with a speech from Neil Gaiman that he made to the Philadelphia University of Arts in May 2012. I like Neil Gaiman anyway, I love his work, and I thought this might be a nice little book to pick up.

It’s designed by Chip Kidd, again, a designer I like, who’s work is great, and it’s worth getting it for his typesetting alone. Very nice, very imaginative and lovely to look at.

The speech itself is brilliant. Gaiman makes a lot of sense, and is basically this… “make good art”. Whatever life throws at you, and whether you re doing this to make money, support your family, for fun, whatever, do it to make good art.

And he’s right! He mentions that the times when he did stuff for the money, he made bad art, he wasn’t happy with it, or he never got the money anyway, and he’s right. It’s easy to say when you’re down to your last £2 in the bank account and can’t borrow any more, or when it’s been 8 weeks and your customer hasn’t paid you still, but if you don’t make something you are pround of, that you love, then there is no point doing it at all.

Well worth a look for any creatives – he puts it a lot better than I do!

Next book: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

Book Number 17: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

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A dabble into iBooks on my iPad mini…

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

328 pages
Genre Fiction (Fantasy)
Tuesday 29th April – Wednesday 14th May (16 days)
6 morning, 2 afternoon, 2 evening, 2 night.

I bought this on my iPad iBooks app. I am not a huge fan of ebooks, finding the screen to hard to read, and not liking the idea of my book running out of battery or being too nervous to read in the bath… but I tried it anyway.

The iBook app is not too bad, you can change the screen to sepia with black text or black with white text which I found easier to read. And I only ran out of battery once. And I didn’t drop it in the bath.

But what about the book? We follow Peter Grant, a constable in London, who becomes entwined in a supernatural weird and wonderful secret world. He is taken on by DCI Nightingale as an apprentice wizard and to help in the more unusual cases the Met has to deal with after seeing a ghost at a murder scene.

The book is full of meekness, pseudo magic-science, Victoriana, and brilliant characters, and is very british, and very London. It reminded me a little of Harry Potter with the real world meets magic kind of theme, but it’s much more adult than Harry Potter. I lived the mythology, the Rivers themselves (I don’t want to spoil anything here, but they are one of my favourite bits of the book) the old London meets new London elements, the ‘normal’ policemen dealing with DCI Nightingale, the theories Grant has behind the magic… I can’t believe this has sat on my iPad for so long, I have been missing out!

Peter’s relationship between his colleague Lesley, the rivers of London, and DCI Nightingale are brilliant, he’s a rely likeable character and you’re rooting for him all through the book.

Very witty, very English, very clever, I guessed one plot point, but was still surprised about other plot points and twists, this book was totally my sort of book and I absolutely loved it. I will be buying the next few books in the series ASAP!

Next book: ‘Make Good Art’ Speech by Neil Gaiman

Book Number 14: Know Your Onions – Web Design by Drew De Soto

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Web design research…

Know Your Onions - Web Design by Drew De Soto

Know Your Onions – Web Design by Drew De Soto

212 pages
Genre Non-Fiction (Web Design)
Saturday 19th April – Sunday 11th May (23 days)
4 morning, 4 afternoon, 2 evening.

I read the first of these a while back and reviewed it on here. I really liked it and when I saw this I had to pick it up and give it a read.

From the outset de Soto explains that this is not going to be a detailed book covering the ins and outs of coding and the technicalities of web design. Instead, it goes through the process of web design, gives some good guidelines and some good basic design practice. And that’s brilliant – exactly what I wanted.

As a designer who does most of her own coding, I found this interesting. There was a lot of good information on the principles of layout (including some good stuff on hotspots), navigation and web conventions, as well as setting out a good timeline from brief to signing off. the book works through from the brief (very important), basic design, including colour, typography, imagery, layout and navigation, working with a developer, making sure the client gets what they want, testing and the problems of using other browsers…

There is also a good glossary of colloquialisms, conventions, technology etc. at the back, making this a good reference book to dip into during a project as well as reading through from cover to cover. A definite recommendation for anyone involved in the web design business!

Next book: Bossypants by Tina Fey 

Book Number 15: Bossypants by Tina Fey

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An autobiography for April…

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Bossypants by Tina Fey

275 pages
Genre Non-Fiction (Autobiography)
Tuesday 22nd April – Saturday 26th April (5 days)
4 morning, 1 afternoon, 3 evening.

An extremely amusing and witty book – I love Tina Fey anyway, but this book was better than I thought it would be!

The book is an autobiographical account of Tina’s life, mainly career based, but there are a few little family stories, her honeymoon (where her and her new husband nearly died!), Christmas with the in-laws (complete with road trips across states) and a lovely end chapter about whether or not to have a second child (since this was written she has had another child). A perfect mix of some really funny stories, some serious points and her views and opinions on her career and the industry, politics and life in general.

Tina’s writing style is very witty, easy to read, and I found it very difficult to put the book down. I think of Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, and it’s obvious that the character is based on herself, but Tina is different, and I think I was expecting Liz Lemon’s autobiography.

I think I sort of hoped for more anecdotes from the set of 30 Rock, as this is what I know and like Tina Fey for most, but what I got was still really funny. I’m not usually a fan of autobiographies or biographies, but in this case, I really like the person, her writing style was interesting and entertaining and her stories and life in general were really worth a read.

Next book: Unsouled by Neil Shusterman 

Book Number 13: Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

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A running recommendation…

Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

229 pages
Genre Non-Fiction (Sport)
Thursday 17th April – Saturday 19th April (3 days)
3 morning, 2 evening.

What an amazing, witty, interesting book. I struggled to put this down. This woman has managed to encapsulate pretty much everything I have discovered, felt and realised about running and written it down in a very witty and emotive way.

I started this book about 4 days after I finished the London Marathon – my 2nd London, and my 3rd marathon overall. It was hard work, I have been very busy, so training has been difficult, and I have a bad back that I have been trying to run with since Christmas (not very successfully) and I needed something to remind me of all the good things that made me run in the first place.

Alexandra gets running. She started on a whim, determined to go from nothing to running the London Marathon in less than a year, and she did it. Since then she has gone on and run more… learning about different aspects of the sport along the way and even going to San Francisco to partake in the Nike Women’s Marathon.

She talks about training, about how running for 10 minutes straight can be hellish when you first start, about how you can quickly progress from barely being able to jog round the block, to being able to run a marathon. She writes about the experience of buying good running trainers, how a decent bra can make or break, the irritation of pinning bloody race numbers on your top when you have boobs and the best way to tie your hair back. The emotions that you go through on a long run, how you feel before, during and after a marathon, and the amazing show of humanity you see at a big event like the London Marathon.

When I started running I never thought I’d be able to run 5km, let alone 26 miles, but I have grown to love running (and at times hate it…) and I feel I was reliving my running journey whilst reading this book. She accurately describes the emotions, the problems you come across, the way you feel when you’re running – it was a fantastic book that I highly recommend.

I cried my way through this book, as I felt there was someone else out there who knew what I had been through, and laughed at the mistakes that I had made as well, and the silly situations I had also found myself in.

If you run, this book is for you. If you don’t run, but you fancy it, this book is for you. If you don’t run, don’t want to run, but know someone who does, this book is for you. Just brilliant.

Next book: Know Your Onions – Web Design by Drew De Soto