Monday, 18 April 2016

Great Book Survey Part 4

This weeks guest is my friend Jenni Keer. I met Jenni via Twitter after we were both selected as New Writers for the Romantic Novelists Association. We clicked and due to a predictive text error where Jenni was supposed to type "See you soon" which came out as "Siam Son" we have our own little greeting! I thought she was greeting me with a mystical Eastern saying, but no it was a predictive text error.

Jenni is currently writing her first novel and hopes to be a published author soon. I will be of course updating everyone when that happens!

So first question Jenni, age (eekk!) and occupation:

Well let’s just say I feel about 60 and act about 17, so my real age is somewhere in the middle. Full time mum to 4 boys, carer for elderly mother and aspiring author.

What is your preferred genre of book?

My favourite genre depends on my mood. Sometimes I want a Rom Com (which is what I write) to cheer me up and make me believe in happy endings. Other times I want a challenge or something darker, like a thriller or a historical book.

Who is your "go to" author when you fancy a relaxing read?

Go to authors are Milly Johnson, Sophie Kinsella, Lee Child, Harlen Coben, Nicholas Sparkes. I know what to expect and know that I will enjoy the book.

How do you chose your books? Cover designs, friends recommendations, book reviews etc? 

Assuming we are talking about an author I may not have read before, I choose my books based on cover design initially - an excellent indicator of genre of the publisher has done it right. Friend’s recommendations IF I know they like the same things as me. Increasingly I will look at books promoted on social media, especially those promoted by people I respect or adverts that catch my eye. And, as we have just mentioned, I will go back to authors I like, especially when they bring something new out.

Is that an author that you enjoy so much, that you buy every book they publish? If so which author?

Authors I go back to (not necessary buy EVERY one - I’d be bankrupt!) are Milly Johnson, Sophie Kinsella (except the shopaholic series - could never get into that for some reason), Harlan Coben, L.M. Montgomery, Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, Terry Pratchett, Nicholas Sparkes and I must mention Melissa Nathan - taken from us too soon. 

Sophie Kinsella is a favourite of mine too, but I know what you mean about the Shopaholic series. I've read a few, but the character of Becky just grates a bit. However her stand alone books are absolutely brilliant and The Undomestic Goddess & Can You Keep A Secret make me chuckle.

Do you have a favourite classic novel? Do you have a favourite children's novel?

Classic book probably Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca or Jane Eyre. (NOT Wuthering Heights - one of those instances where I really don’t get what the fuss is all about. Which is exactly how I feel about chocolate. Definitely in the minority though.)
Children’s book (some of which are classics) Alice in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables (oh how I love Gilbert Blythe - possibly my first crush), Little Women, The Faraway Tree. But I must also mention the amazing Julia Donaldson (Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo, The Snail and the Whale). These are so clever and a joy to read out loud. You don't have to be a child to appreciate this genre - or perhaps I am still a child on the inside. There was no way I could narrow that down to just one. You should have seen the pre-edited list!

The Faraway Tree was my all time children's favourite as my Grandad used to read them to me. I can still see Moonface, Silky the Fairy and Mr Saucepan Man in my head and really want to ride the slippery slip from Moonface's house to the bottom of the tree!

Would you say you owned more digital copies of books or paperbacks? Which format do you prefer?

I do have a kindle (how could I hope to be an author and not?) but I still reach for paperbacks by preference. I don't like not being able to see the cover when I pick up what I am reading, and I do read in the bath - not a great idea with an ebook. However, the dictionary feature is really useful, as is the fact you can buy a book instantly. This has proved useful with bored children!

Finally what 10 books would you take to a desert island? You don't have to take a survival guide!

10 books is just impossible, so these really are the first ones that come into my head.
  • Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
  • Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella - THE funniest book I have ever read.
  • Tell No One by Harlan Coben - the most gripping page turner EVER. He is a master at this. One chapter is never enough.
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer - ground breaking (well it was in my world)
  • Beating About the Bush by Linda Taylor - not only is it a great book, it was also written by my sister, so I saw a different side to this, and appreciated the work that had gone into it. 
  • Anything by Betty Neals - just for fun!
  • The Nanny by Melissa Nathan
  • Any Terry Pratchett
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen 
… arghh, I’ve run out! Nooooo, I need to take more. Can I have a bigger suitcase please? Or perhaps I can take ten Kindles and some solar panels, and fill them all up with books?

The books you have chosen are fantastic! In fact I could quite easily share a desert island with you. Can You Keep A Secret is one of my favourite books and makes me laugh out loud every time I read it, The Nanny is absolutely brilliant and Rebecca is one of my all time favourite books. 

Thank you so much Jenni for taking part in my survey. If you want to follow Jenni on her writing journey you can find her on Twitter

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Great Book Survey Part 3

This weeks book post is courtesy of someone I've known all my life, my cousin & friend Mandy May. We had similar tastes growing up, except she loved Wham! and I was a Duranie through and through! We liked the same books and still do, we have children 1 year apart and she knows my dry sense of humour probably as well as my husband does.

So Mandy the painful part age and occupation
 43 (I think) and I am a single parent to a 21,15 and 7 year old. In my spare time I'm a PA to a Financial Adviser   

What is your preferred genre of book?

I am a big fan of women's fiction, romance and also something a bit saucy 😉

Who is your “go to author” when you want a relaxing read?

When I want a nice, relaxing read it's Paige Toon every time. I've read all of her books and will do in the future.

Paige Toon

How do you chose your books? Cover design, friends recommendations, book reviews etc?

I generally go by authors and if I read a book and enjoy it I will then read other books by the same author, I have also read books that are recommended by friends or by you. 
That's good to hear, I love recommending authors and books to people and I like it more if they enjoy them.

Is there an author that you enjoy so much that you buy every one of their published novels? If so which author?

I have a lot of favourite authors and have read all of their books, they are Paige Toon, the late Jackie Collins, Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty & Debbie Macomber, I'm sure there are more.

Do you have a favourite classic book? Do you have a favourite children’s book?

I don't really have a favourite classic book, but one that is etched in my brain is "What Katy Did" I was made to read that book all day whilst my parents were at work and I can't even bare to look at the cover anymore!!!! I love children's books and as an avid reader myself I have tried really hard to encourage my children to enjoy books. My favourite has to be Enid Blytons "The Wishing Chair" 
I loved The Wishing Chair too, but my all time favourite was The Faraway Tree collection by Enid Blyton

Sorry! What Katy Did

Would you say you own more digital copies of books or paperbacks? Which format do you prefer?

I definitely own more paperbacks but more recently my preference has been digital books purely as I have no room for more books, but I have recently reignited my love for the library which gives me the best of both worlds, paperbacks and no need to store them. I absolutely love to receive books as presents, there is nothing quite like a new book!!!  

Finally which 10 books would you take to a desert island? You don’t have to include a survival guide!

The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty 
Malory Towers by Enid Blyton (to re-live my teenage years)
The Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton 
The Santangelos by Jackie Collins
All the Harry Potter books as I've not read them and it would keep me busy
One perfect Summer by Paige Toon 
Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon 
Calendar Girls by Audrey Carlan (for the lonely nights) 
The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber  
What Katie Did- to throw in the sea and hope it doesn't float 

The Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton

Some great books there Mandy, especially the Enid Blyton ones. Malory Towers was definitely a firm favourite of mine and I really wanted to go there. 
I had the pleasure of meeting Paige Toon at a book event and am ashamed to say that I hadn't read any of her titles before, but I was given an advance copy of her next novel The One We Fell In Love With (published 19th May 2016) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will be working my way through her library soon.
My last interviewee Kevin Hanney expressed a desire to use a book to start a fire, whereas you want to throw a book into the sea! It just shows that books forced upon you are not going to be enjoyed. I'm glad in both your cases that it didn't put you off reading for life.

Thank you so much Mandy for taking part. Next week I feature another book lover so please look out for the links. 

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Great Book Survey Part 2

So the first book survey was a success so here is part 2! It is really interesting to get a view into other people's "book lives". I am getting a good cross section of people wanting to take part, which is great as I thought it may just be women of my age contacting me - not there is anything wrong with that!

This week I am featuring Kevin Hanney. I met Kevin at my Creative Writing Class at the local Adult Education Centre and we bonded over pies and cleavage! Maybe I should explain. One of our first exercises was to create a story from cards given to us by our tutor. I ended up writing a short story about a Chief Inspector who had a wife with a magnificent bosom, who couldn't cook for toffee. They had been invited to a garden party where each wife was expected to bake a pie. His wives offering was of course below par and he schemes to swap it with one of the more bitchy wives pies. I read my story out to the little group and Kevin and I have been buddies ever since.


Kevin has written a book called Do Unto Others, which I have had the great privilege of reading. It is set in the fast paced world of advertising and the characters are phenomenal. He is yet to find a publisher, but I am sure it will not be long, so look out for the title soon.

So Kevin firstly the basics, name, age (if you feel like disclosing) and occupation apart from fantastic writer!

Kevin Hanney, 57, Accountant

What is your preferred genre of book?

Crime Fiction, with strong characters. I don’t like wishy washy people or characters. So no vegan art lovers, who hug trees at the weekend.

Who is your “go to author” when you want a relaxing read?

Kate Rhodes. I met her last year on creative writing course.

How do you chose your books? Cover design, friends recommendations, book reviews etc?

Friends, Radio 2 Book Club reviews and Waterstone's staff reviews are sometimes useful.

 Is there an author that you enjoy so much that you buy every one of their published novels? If so which author?

Robert Galbraith, aka J K Rowling. Strong private detective, with an interesting personality and an artificial limb.

Do you have a favourite classic book? Do you have a favourite children’s book?

I don't have a favourite classic book, but my favourite children's book is Peace at Last by Jill Murphy. I used to read this to my son when he was 2 or 3.

Would you say you own more digital copies of books or paperbacks? Which format do you prefer?

I prefer hard copies to digital, as I prefer CDs and vinyl to downloads.

Finally which 10 books would you take to a desert island? You don’t have to include a survival guide.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Devil’s Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
Do Unto Others by Kevin Hanney
Monty Pythons Little Red Book
The History of West Ham United
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
A biography of Winston Churchill
Guinness Book of Records
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Emma by Jane Austen (I would use this to light a fire, as I had to read it at school)

Some great answers Kevin. I too used to read Jill Murphy's "Large Family" books to my son when he was younger. We still have all the books as they hold really nice memories for us.
As for using Emma by Jane Austen to light a fire. Tut, tut, but I totally understand how being forced to read a book at school can damage your view of that book for life. I had to read Thomas Hardy and although I enjoy some of his work, I can't read the Mayor of Casterbridge as I had to not only read it, but write endless essays on the thing too.
Reading is very much a personal thing. Classics and other titles should be recommended at school, but not forced upon people.

Thank you for some great titles. You introduced me to Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) and I have to say I really enjoyed the writing.

Good luck with your novel Kevin - Do Unto Others - and keep us posted.

Find Kevin on Twitter