Born with a book in my hand:) Musing Monday

reading passionIn answer to Books and a Beat Musing Mondays’ random question.Can you recall a time when you weren’t an avid reader?

Well maybe not born with a book in hand:) I cannot honestly remember learning to read as such; new words yes, from food packets, newspapers and books but, who taught me and when I don’t recall.

Before I can remember.

I have always read.

With a good start, being born of parents who read avidly, in a house tottering from the weight of books:)

I read.

I do remember being soundly told off first day at school for knowing how to read, being told my parents should not have taught me and to forget everything I had been told

Well yes.
Was so going to do that wasn’t I?

I was way ahead of my age group for years, only in reading mind – in every other subject I was rubbish!

When I discovered the books which could be read at school, I was taking one home every night only to face a barrage of suspicious interrogation as to the books content, had I understood. I complained at home about this daily disbelief, which just meant my father quizzed me as well. Nobody really believed I could read so swiftly for a few years. But I could and did. I didn’t know how either, had always thought it was normal.

Books in our house never seemed to be censored or designated adult / child;  maybe books totally unsuitable would have been put out of reach I don’t know all I knew was I could try any book in the endless bookcases.

I was quiet, shy, awkward in social situations and spent hours reading. I couldn’t make friends in the real world but I grew up with dozens of good mates within those pages. Formed my dreams and ambitions from the stories I read. I still read swiftly and widely, there is a hint of desperation now as the years race by, so many more books to read so little time:)

At the moment I’m reading Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle for a reading group in town and enjoying it, surprised I hadn’t read it before.

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

Musing Mondays |


  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION:Can you recall a time when you weren’t an avid reader?


The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton: Musing Monday

alberta's book reviews

When I thought of today I was going to write about a book I was reading, however, I stayed up so late I finished  it so it will be a book I have just finished reading. I must stop doing that, I have such problems waking up and functioning next day if I read until 2-3 in the a.m:(

we have all been there though I am sure, when leaving a book just to sleep seems to be impossible.  Far too often in my life have I done this:)

The Miniaturist

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?


Lovely book.

I had had a mixed bag of good, okay’ish and ‘don’t like that much’ books lately. Many of them for the book groups I belong to. None were awful, a couple were disappointing and some I think were just me, or the mood I was in..

So it was with trepidation I approached The Miniaturist, another book group read. Weary from the long reads of Wool by Hugh Howey 500 pages and Citadel by Kate Mosse 1000 pages, I groaned as I reached for it, 400 pages – not so bad:) . It accompanied me to the garage to find out what bad news they would give on the car. It was bad, bad, bad, but the trepidation about the book, the shock of the estimated bill were not enough to dim this book. What a delight it was from beginning to end. A book where the loss is felt after the pages close, when another book is impossible for a day or two.

17th century Amsterdam. A city built on reclaimed land and trade from every corner of the globe. A naive young bride, a rich merchant husband who is reluctant to consummate the marriage, his sour sister, a Negro man servant and a outspoken maid. Living unconventional lives within a conventional and hypocritical society of fabulously wealthy elite and a thundering Calvinistic religion.

And of course a doll’s house.

I discovered after I had finished it that this is a Marmite* book. Rave reviews or scorn. Nothing, it appears, in the middle. For me, the story flowed along beautifully, like an old river. Each character so different, the claustrophobic feel of a society of long ago was, for me, interesting. The unseen but ever present miniaturist is the creepy part. Is she friend or foe, how does she know so much of this fairly closed household, how does she know the secret lives. Is she an insider that she knows so much or . . .or. . . is this a delicious bit of magic realism?

It is a story with some endings predictable and others left hanging. A book to weep over and to wonder at after the event. For a debut novel it was impressive.

  • Marmite for those who do not know is a dark brown yeast and salt based food paste with a advertising slogan ‘Love it or Hate it’ and is now used generally as a metaphor for polarized positions on any subject

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

Musing Mondays |

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Approximately how many books do you usually read per week? Per month?

How many a week, a month. It is so dependant on how much time, how much work, how many social commitments or appointments. On my mood, health, family’s mood and health. Is the sun shining, is it pouring with rain or blowing a gale . Some weeks I read book after book then I may go for a week without picking one up.
I can report that my Goodreads challenges for the past few years come in at

2012 = 64 books

2013  =  120 books

2015 =  106 books

2016 so far = 23 books

I don’t remember why 2014 is missing I would have read but I was in the middle of a great depression so maybe didn’t register on the book challenge. 2012 I was ill most of the year with massive migraine type headaches which had to operated on, so reading was difficult.

I used to read a lot more when I was young and cutting edge – late night sessions didn’t bother me so much – massive books were easier to hold before wrists gave out and I spent a lot of time on public transport so reading times were extended:)

I grounded the car for bad behaviour!: Friday Finds

FRIDAY FINDS  from adailyrhythm showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).



You had all better sit to receive this next bit of news – I did NOT BUY any books this week — yes yes that’s correct, no money was exchanged this week on books.

Can hardly believe it myself.

It is such a rare event.

I cannot claim any virtue in this state of affairs, I was going too. Wednesday is book group day – held in a bookshop! Yeah all you addicts know what that entails:) however on Tuesday the car began to behave badly. What? I couldn’t decide it sounded like not just exhaust but maybe clutch problems at the same time. I do hope it isn’t either, or both. I have an appointment with the garage tomorrow and in the meantime I have grounded the car for bad behaviour.

I never made the book group = never bought any books:) I didn’t even turn to the Internet because if my worst fears are realized it will be a long time before I can afford any more books – sigh:)

I do have some new reads though. The Tuesday saw me at the library book group – so have next month’s book and three others I borrowed at the same time.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (next month’s read. I have seen the film and am hoping the book is much better!

Mr G by Allan Lightman (this one sounds intriguing – great hopes for it)

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (have been meaning to read this for ages)

Wise Words and Country Ways by Ruth Binney (It is always fun reading what our forbears believed in and this book promises more – whether there is any truth to old wives tales and the origins of some of the others. A good cherry-pick book)

Gone GirlMr g: A Novel About The CreationOn Chesil BeachWise Words And Country Ways


So four new reads – can’t be bad:)

Wool by Hugh Howey and Musing Monday.

alberta's book reviewsI have just spent a couple of days reading Wool by Hugh Howey- it was a book group choice, I knew nothing about it, had not read reviews or been recommended it. Running at 561 pages I crossed my fingers and hoped for a good read.

I was not disappointed.
I neglected a fair amount of stuff so that I could continue reading – went to bed far too late.

I found it quite unputdownable.

A true dystopian, as opposed to zombie led ones. The opposite of Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia and the genre spawned by such.

This is a story of hundreds of years of living in a huge underground silo. Over a hundred levels of humanity. At first, all seems well. The population wait patiently for the day when they can leave the silo. For the world to cleanse itself of the poisons outside.

The world of deception and lies is slowly unravelled and, for me, the tension and anticipation grew at just the right pace to keep me turning those pages. I laughed, cried, chewed my lip, and worried equally. I found the characters real and, whether good or bad, they were well drawn and believable. The heroine – great – my kind of heroine. Feisty and intelligent. Also a natural born rebel.

Such a good book and then I find there are two more volumes to read – well how good is that:)


Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: How do you choose  the books you read?

How do I choose a book to read? I haven’t really ever thought very hard about it.

There are some titles which just leap into my hands like

The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson – what’s not to intrigue in that one.

Or The Remarkable Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Or  Gaiman’s,  The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I wouldn’t really care what genre if the title grabs me.

Then there is I suppose the cover. All I know is what puts me off so much I won’t even read the blurb. Pictures of ‘sexy’ men with six packs, temptress women, hair flowing and more flesh than covering. Anything with a vampire on it. I don’t like the pastel ‘sweet’ pictures that I associate with chick lit. There are not many covers I  object to. Apart from those mentioned.

The blurb will tell me if the premise of the book is appealing. Then I may read a couple of pages to see if the style inspires confidence.

Many new finds and enjoyable reads have come about by recommendations from friends or even, on one or two occasions, complete strangers:)

Of course, there is a host of authors, already known to me, that I will comfortable reading their next publication with no second thoughts.

I enjoy books from almost every genre.

A  new author excites the most – the chance to find a new author, a stunning story, an imagination which thrills, to experience new sensations, to live in another life.

After so many decades I don’t often make a mistake in the choosing. Sometimes I am surprised, in book groups, I have often read away from my comfort zone and found something to appeal in a book I would not have picked up myself. A good reminder that an open mind is necessary.

Identity theft & Musing Monday

reading passion

I have another rant today – it is I am sure a very personal one. I do have foibles concerning identity and permission to be private. I complain if other people read a postcard addressed to me, let alone a letter. I know postcards are open and therefore ‘anyone’ is entitled to read them – I have heard it all before – I happen to disagree.

What has this to do with books?

Well I have this feel for personal privacy and identity for others as well. ‘Joe public’ does not have the God-given right to know everything there is to know about another person, nor do they have the right to make things up about other people either.

Ourselves, our inner selves not the public front we present, is ours. If we wish to share, fine. If we go to our graves having not shared, that too is fine, and nobodies business except ours.

Wait for it, I am coming to books, honest.

I am not a great fan of most ‘historical’ fiction, not since I grew old enough to hold these opinions. Some are okay, but mostly they are ruined, for me, because authors will bring in ‘real’ historical figures and ‘invent’ situations and conversations pertaining to come from them. This, in my opinion, is so wrong. It is a form of identity theft in my eyes.

There is no way on earth anyone can know what someone 50 years ago may have said or done let alone someone 300 years ago. If the readers do not read non fiction or have access to the historical evidence they may well go to their graves believing the fictional history.

History is already riddled with unreliable narrators; the winners of battles, the authorities who decide what history is presented, please don’t make it worse. Do not put thoughts into dead people. Rely on the research for reality. People the books with fictional characters for sure.

It is akin to collecting names of church records and baptizing dead folk into a different religion – how can that be right, and that is from someone without religion.

I am ranting because I have recently finished The Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell a book group read.

I was looking forward to reading it. The premise looked fascinating, and it was, the character’s sounded interesting and they were, very. A book said to be the longest suicide note in history.

The reviews garnered are positive

It is about the three surviving sisters of a dysfunctional family of Jews living in America – their family history goes back a few generations to Europe – to the early 1900s. It is going to include Nazis and pogroms, it’s inevitable and these were handled well.

Whats not to enjoy?

On all that I would have marked it  highly. The writing was excellent, it combined loss, sorrow, fear, love happiness with fine detail and mists of dark humour and wit. A story about the perceived faults passed down through generations, perceived guilt of previous generations.

On the face of it, as I read it, I should have been yelling

‘What a brilliant book.

It is a brilliant book and unless you have the same scruples as me I highly recommend it. Without a fatal flaw I would have ranked it high on my list of want to read again books


The author has gone in for identity theft in a big way. She has based some of the characters on real people; giving her characters the discoveries and accolades of the real people. She has mixed the real, such as Einstein, with the fictional and invented new situations and conversations where none exist in any records. She has lifted a letter written by a real person and allowed it to be written by a fictional. All this she tells us at the end of book – it should have been at the front! She isn’t hiding anything, and I know most people reading the book will not mind in the slightest, especially as she is so honest about it. But for me it turned a splendid book into one I don’t ever want to read again.

How dare anyone take anything away from the dead and hand it over to a fictional being. It brings us down to the level of those meddlers of history, those who can and do. There should be a stricter code of ethics to fiction writing. It should not be ‘anything goes’. Don’t mess with the dead. Don’t change their histories.

As I said it is a personal feeling of outrage.

So rant over and I will try not to bring another one here for a while – blame it on the weather, that’s always a good excuse for stuff.


Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION:  Do you read more than one book at once? Why, or why not?

Now do I read more than one book at a time? Nowadays not as much as I used, I don’t go out so very much. I always have a fiction and non fiction going side by side. The non-fiction is my dip-in-to book, for the shorter periods of time. Occasionally I will start a small book if I’m reading a huge one and need to go out anywhere, as it is essential never go out without a book. So the last few days while I have been reading I Am Pilgrim all 800+ pages, I have started Our Endless Numbered Days because I needed a book to fit my bag.

When I was young and cutting edge I would have one on the go at work, one next to my bed and one in the bathroom. Ah, those were the days, when I could lie in hot water – topping up when needed- with a book, music and coffee and read until my skin resembled a brain! Just to be able to get in and out of one would be nice these days:)

There was always, and still is, at least one in the car at all times ‘just in case’.