Monday, June 15, 2009

Savidge Reads Doesn't Live Here Anymore...

Don't worry this is merely a relocation rather than a farewell as you can read below!

You can now find the new look Savidge Reads at so before popping by for a natter do update your address book!

Now when do I throw the housewarming party? Suggestions welcomed over at the other site!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Waving Goodbye & Then Waving Hello

So after taking in all of your feedback I made the decision that I am definitely moving to pastures new and if you are reading Savidge Reads on Blogger then it’s a farewell, if you are looking at Savidge Reads on Wordpress then “hello and welcome” as it is officially my new home so from now on do drop your comments on the Wordpress one

I wouldn’t say that the move has been emotional as I think that might be a slight over dramatisation. It has been a bit difficult in terms of saying goodbye to a site I took so long to get right and I was worried that none of you would follow me but already I have found your commenting there, I now get email alerts when you do which completely flummoxed me at first. It’s not been difficult swapping to Wordpress at all though and I am not the most technological man in the world.

A few of you said you would like to know how the transition was and the answer is… really easy. I won’t lie, I did find the new dashboard a little daunting but the forums and support are cracking help as you go. I am only annoyed that I simply cannot for the life of me work out how to make a “Currently Reading” tab but I have some help coming on that one from the lovely Lizzy Siddal. The best thing about the move I am hoping is that I will be able to interact with you all much more. I mentioned I get notified of your comments now and rather than reply in bulk I can now do it individually. I have started working more on the additional pages which you should be able to see around Tuesday, keep your eye on the Book Group page particularly, in fact Tuesdays blog will link into that too… but more of that later.

Before I go I just want to say a HUGE thank you to you all for your feedback it meant lots to me, now its all done I will be catching up with your blogs tomorrow I promise.
Do bear/bare (I can never get that right) with me while I sort out things like ‘tags’ which has been my one and only nightmare in terms of dragging the blog from one site to another and while I get used to accidentally deleting and finding things. It will all be worth it hopefully! Oh and don’t forget if you have my site in your top blog links (I flatter myself some of you might have) to update the link and let me know when you have as I will do the same back. Did that make sense? I think it’s all been a bit much this weekend, ha!

Oh and one final change… my email address, you can now get hold of me at

Erm that’s it for now… it’s all new as of tomorrow!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This is a blog beg from a man on the edge... Ok so I really, really need your help with this decision, as I mentioned yesterday (though this being blogger it could turn up any day it chooses) I am spending most of the weekend trying to chill out whilst having a sort out. Now one of the things that I had set out to do was look at other blog providers and I have now set up a new blog site that I am going to trial for a week or so.

However what I need from you the people who come and visit the blog (and who, bar myself, I write the blog for) is your thoughts on the two different sites and if I should move. So the site for you to now run like the wind to and check out is...

I would love, love, love your feedback as it means heaps to me, and obviously I want you guys to like it. My current thoughts are that blogger looks more classic and I can have my 'current reads' on the page, wordpress looks more modern and I can have more than one page for things like The Savidge Reads & Kimbofo Book Group and also my top reads of all time etc, etc. The Converted One managed to drag thier eyes away from their copy of David Starkey's 'Henry' to announce 'the new one is better its more colourful, more you and you can put so much more on it' however, though The Converted One is now enjoying books, popping by my blog daily is quite a different matter!

So please let me know what you think by leaving your comments on here, like I said it means a huge amount to me. Thats my begging over... I will continue to sort my book world out and await your thoughts! It's a bit like Big Brother (which I am refusing to watch this year) "Blogspot or Wordpress, who goes... you decide!"

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sorting It All Out

Sorry for some blogging silence today but I am having one of my sort outs. On the list of things to do over the next coming weekend is really sort out my TBR piles, TBR boxes and finding all of my duplicate copies of books as then I can do some sort of giveaway to you lovely people who come by and comment. I also plan to go through my bookshelves. I seem to have quite a few books on there that I simply thought were ‘quite good’ or nice and am wondering whether I really need to keep hording them or make room for books that I love instead. I think a longer blog on this will be coming over the weekend as frankly today I am shattered. I still haven’t recovered from Switzerland; however I have a three day weekend now!

Another thing that I need to sort out is what books have come in recently and when they are released as I would like to post reviews when the books are actually out. I also want to make sure that some real true classics are at the top of my TBR pile as I haven’t been fulfilling the promise I made this year to read more of them. Speaking of latest arrivals, since I last told you what came in I have received…

City of Thieves – David Benioff (which came with an additional jacket that said if you don’t like this we will send you two books in return – now that’s a promise)
Molly Fox’s Birthday – Deirdre Madden (which I have read but still isn’t showing up on my blog… more on that shortly)
The SĂ©ance – John Harwood (very excited)
Casanova – Ian Kelly (a biography – interesting)
Daphne – Justine Picardie (the paperback, so now I have two)
Call For The Dead – John Le Carre
A Murder of Quality – John Le Carre
The Looking Glass War – John Le Carre
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold – John Le Carre (the only one of these I had heard of)
Henry – David Starkey (another biography)
The Coma – Alex Garland
Valeria’s Last Stand – Marc Fitten
Sunnyside – Glen David Gold (another duplicate)

Oh I forgot three… see what I mean about needing to sort everything out! I have also had these…
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy (with the most summery cover)
Ghosts & Lightning – Trevor Byrne
Come Sunday – Isla Murphy (other than Thomas Hardy I know nothing of these authors)

The other big thing I have been sorting out is a possible new blog site! I have been working like an absolute demon on researching and actually trialling some of the other blog providers apart from Blogger which as you may know I am having some slight problems with. I had a good look into Typepad which is a popular one and I do love the layout that people like Dovergreyreader have but I feel a bit funny about paying for a blog. So after much whittling and indecision I have decided to try out Wordpress. Now I haven’t gone there for good but I am giving it a go as I love the fact that your blog can have several pages. So I have made some extra ones, sadly I cant have a currently reading column, well it could be the fact that I haven’t worked out what to do with it yet!

My trail site is HERE and I would love, love, love to hear what you think. So do please let me know. I think this one is more classic but with less pages and the new one is more modern... oh I don't know... you decide!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Books About Books

Today’s question on Booking Through Thursday is all about Niche books. “There are certain types of books that I more or less assume all readers read. (Novels, for example.)
But then there are books that only YOU read. Instructional manuals for fly-fishing. How-to books for spinning yarn. How to cook the perfect soufflé, rebuilding car engines in three easy steps. Dog training for dummies. Rewiring your house without electrocuting yourself. Tips on how to build a NASCAR course in your backyard. Stuff like that.
What niche books do YOU read?”

I have to say in all honesty that none of the above appeal to me and nor do niche books in general. I don’t really do D.I.Y when generally simply phoning the landlord gets everything done, but maybe when I finally buy a house (with a library) of my very own then I will. I am not really a big arts and crafts person, though I think I have an inner ‘knitter’ screaming to get out of me. I do have quite a few cookery books if that counts though?

If there were to be two types of ‘niche books’ that I do buy the first would be books on ghosts. Seriously, I have a whole shelf devoted to them. In fact when I get home later I will try and remember to take a photo of said shelf for proof. I tend to buy older dustier copies of these as they seem a bit spookier, though you may notice the odd ‘Most Haunted’ book thrown in the mix.

However the ‘niche’ books that I have only a few of and would love to have many, many more of are… books about books and books about reading books.
The only thing is they seem to be few and far between. I have read ‘The Book Club Bible’ collated by Lionel Shriver and Sara Nelson’s ‘So Many Books So Little Time’, I also have ’84 Charing Cross Road’ by Helene Hanff and ‘Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir of Books’ by Azar Nafisi high up on my TBR piles. But I need more for the future to make a collection and so I need suggestions from all of you of books about books that frankly I simply must own. I look forward to your suggestions…

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vanish - Tess Gerritsen

I hate flying but from now on whenever I have a big trip coming up I am going to have to make sure that I take a Tess Gerritsen book with me. I had been unsure of which book to read as I flew to and from Switzerland and most of my contenders seemed too heavy (especially as I was on a little bit of vallium) but my latest read in the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles novels ‘Vanish’ was absolutely perfect. I always say that a Tess Gerritsen book for me is my favourite ‘Guilty Pleasure’ but actually I am going to remove that tag from her books now as frankly literary or not (dependent on what you believe is and isn’t literature) she writes brilliant books that completely grip me and have me turning pages like crazy.

Vanish is in fact the fifth book in what was the Jane Rizzoli series and then became the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isle series of crime/thriller novels that Tess Gerritsen has become incredibly famous for. Every single of the previous fur I have absolutely loved and raced through and so each time I open another one I always worry that this will be the one that I don’t like or that isn’t as good as the ones that have gone before it. I needn’t have worried as I was in safe, if gruesome, hands of a master of her work, or is it mistress of her work?

Dr Maura Isles is going about her routine paperwork at the morgue when she hears a noise. Not one for getting the creeps, as she is named ‘Queen of the Dead’, even she is shocked when she checks on the bodies and one of them opens their eyes. The woman is rushed to hospital where she then (and this isn’t spoiling the plot as its in the blurb) kills a guard and takes some of the staff and patients hostage. One such hostage is Detective Jane Rizzoli of homicide who is heavily pregnant. Who is this Jane Doe and what does she want and can Jane survive long enough to find out.

In previous books, as with this one, they are quite gruesome dark and tense. What makes an interesting twist with this book in particular is that Gerritsen decides to throw in some political twists which she hasn’t done so much in the past, had I known this I would possibly have been put off a little as I don’t do politics but Gerritsen makes it compelling reading adding to the suspense and twists which I don’t find many authors manage when they cross over the political thriller with the crime thriller. I can see this book gaining Gerritsen even more fans who may not have tried her before.

Along with all this is the fact that Gerritsen herself is a doctor and so she knows what she is talking about, never for one minute do you feel any of the scenes in the hospitals or morgues are faked, in fact Gerritsen has said that finding non dead people in morgues is more common than you would think which is a bit of a scary thought. Ok so some of the story line means you really have to suspend your belief (in the last one Dr Maura Isles opens up a body bag to see herself in it), but many, many books do that. Her characters though are superb and she does something only a few crime writers do which is get the reader to know the victim, making the death not only shocking tense and chilling but also adding the feeling you know that person makes it all the more horrific to read. I can’t say a bad thing about this book and do you know what… the next book, The Mephisto Club, sounds even better!

It was also perfect after the Orange shortlist (reviews still being sorted for the final two I read… I don’t understand what blogger is playing at) which though a great read and made me read some wonderful books I would otherwise have missed was a bit like an exercise and all too planned. Now before I try and do the Man Booker Long list when its announced I am more than happy to just let my reading whims take me wherever they should lead. Bliss!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fifteen In Fifteen: A Quick & Easy Blog

…Which is exactly what I need whilst I get my bearings after a nice break away and whilst all seems to be chaos in the land of blogger! Genuinely if you can recommend another blog site I am definitely thinking about changing provider, though can you carry over all you have already done?

Anyway I realized that I had missed last weeks Booking Through Thursday and so thought “why not do it now” especially as it was the fun and fairly quick “Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.” And here are what I came up with…

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Woman In White – Wilkie Collins
The Time Travelers’ Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
The Woman In Black – Susan Hill
Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
The Boy in the Stripped Pyjama’s – John Boyne
Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Mr Pip - Lloyd Jones
State of Happiness – Stella Duffy
Human Croquet – Kate Atkinson
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

These are in no particular order by the way it is literally as they came into my head. I did then think of Helen Garners 'The Spare Room but that would be sixteen! As to why these books stuck, it would be the plot, the characters and the prose plus most books which stick in my head but arent my instant favoruites are ones that reall make me think and all 15 of these have in varying ways. Isnt it weird though that the books that have ‘stuck with me’ aren’t all the ones that I would say are my favourite fifteen books of all time. That would be quite, quite a different list maybe I will blog about that another time, and if things keep going as they do maybe on another blog!

What about you do your fifteen books that have 'stuck' matched your favourites and what is it that makes a book stick in your head?

Monday, June 08, 2009

So Loved Switzerland...

Now I am going to ignore the fact that blogger seems to have not uploaded my review of The Wilderness and merely left a title or the fact it completely didnt bother to upload the review of Molly Fox's Birthday... instead I am going to think about my trip to Switzerland which was amazing and so, so, so relaxing! I thought I would share some pictures of my trip with you before I get down to sorting this site out... call it a image interlude!

Here is my new favourite city Lucerne...

The one from my balcony...

And here is the lovely Zurich, which I think I am addicted to as I have been twice in six months...

And finally here is the lovely holidaying gang (I'm on the right)...

A little more insight into the 'non-book' side of me. Did I read much? I have to admit I didn't I think that the Orange Shortlist required a reading break after it (let's not even discuss the winner I will get cross and I am still relaxed from spa-ing) I did devour some trash and have some very heated book debates but more on those when I can get blinking blogger performing properly! Hope you are all well?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

You Know I Mentioned About Book Groups…

A very short blog today but sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest news in them. I should get straight to the point shouldn’t I rather than simply just waffle on endlessly which frankly could happen couldn’t it?

The other week I mentioned that I really wanted to join a book group but had been having real problems finding a good one in the flesh or online. Well you all sent me some wonderful thoughts and ideas, I did particularly like the idea of a Skype book group. However randomly I had a chat with the lovely Kimbofo who is a fellow London book blogger and we have come to the conclusion that we will be starting one together in London Town.

We would welcome anyone who wishes to join us, though you do have to take a literary quiz in order to be accepted… that last bit is a joke, can you imagine if we were insistent on that, I would fail it and not be allowed into my own group. So if you are interested in coming along to the meetings which will be held once a month then please drop either me or Kimbofo an email via our blogs and we look forward to getting to know you. We are just tweaking how the group is going to work but everyone will be able to choose a book in turn but all will be revealed at the first meeting when all we ask is that people bring along their very favourite read… I look forward to your emails!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Reading Journals

I have been debating getting myself a notebook especially for all my book thoughts as I go for quite some time now. Partly because I don’t think I have grown out of that love for new stationary that you have as a child at school when new terms start (I would regularly loose books on purpose simply so I could get a new one, not so good when it came to revision) the other part is that I think blogging is great but its nice to have a private diary where I can write extra little silly thoughts I have and have a place to write down the titles for books I really want to get my mitts on. I already do this in all the many random notebooks I own. I did want to take a photo of one so that you could see how my mind works on paper when am reading but I appear to have lost about three notebooks or left them in random bags and offices and don’t have time.

Hence why I am thinking that maybe a general notebook ONLY for books would be a good idea? The other reason may also be the fact that I saw that Penguin were now selling these in a certain chain of bookstores here in the UK…
I can’t deny it, I wanted one on sight, but at £12 I was slightly dubious about it and unusually for me I left a book shop empty handed. I am thinking that I deserve a treat for something; I am just not sure quite what that something is yet. I will have to think it over. What I have done though is pack a notebook (not anywhere near as special as the ones above) so that while I am in Switzerland I can give it a go and see whether it makes a big difference or not and how much I use it. Do any of you keep Journals or Notebooks of what you have read as well as or instead of a Blog? I would love to hear your thoughts by the time I am back and I will let you know how it all goes!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Who Do I Think Should Win The Orange Prize?

So tonight is the ceremony which sees the winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction announced. I have to say I have it to thank for finding some wonderful books that I would have shamefully possibly missed out on and one particular author whose backlog of books I am getting very ‘Amazon Happy’ about. Sadly due to bloggers recent behaviour I haven’t been able to put the reviews for two of them up but I will and I can promise you that I have read them all and here, before it is announced (if blogger doesn’t go crazy) is who I think should win, I will admit it was almost a draw but my Orange Prize would go to…

...Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie! I know I have already waffled on about how wonderful I thought this book was but days on I am still talking to everyone about it and frankly I can’t be stopped. As soon as it comes out in paperback I have a list as long as my arm of people that I will have to send copies too. I think the one thing I wished that I had added in my review (which you can find here) is that it’s also very much a book for our times. We like so much to think that the human race has come such a long way forward and in reality I am not sure how true that is and in some ways (not all but some) Kamila Shamsie’s book captivates this and along with sadness and despair she brings hope in a wonderful, wonderful character such as Hiroko.

I did say that this could have easily been a drawer and the book that I would also be more than happy to see win has to be The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey (the review should be up on here on Friday) as the tale of a man and his developing Alzheimer’s and how he tries to remember his life story is another absolutely wonderful book. I would love it if one of them won the Orange and one of them won the Booker that would be quite fabulous wouldn’t it. If Ellen Feldmen or Samantha Hunt won I would be happy too (reviews are here and here), they were both very good books. I remain undecided on Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden possibly because I haven’t quite finished it (review will be up Monday when am back and have more time) but it’s left me luke warm for now. I won’t comment on Home, you can all read my struggle with that here.

Will I be right? I won’t actually know until Monday… how vexing! What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Taking On My Travels

It’s all going a little bit wrong in the land of Blogger which I am finding quite annoying as it isn’t seeming to let me do any blogs before today when I want it to (additional note this should have been posted successfully at 11am not almost 11pm) and I am fairly unimpressed as I am desperately trying to get my Orange thoughts to you before tomorrow. Burnt Shadows finally seems to be up but it’s not letting me do two more which is really irritating! What I may have to do is put the reviews up in advance and you can get my full thoughts on the list on Wednesday and reviews of the final two afterwards, that cant be considered cheating as frankly I have read them and done the time. It is also annoying when you are trying to write a week worth of blogs so that while you are away magically there is something fun for your readers daily! I have to admit I am seriously thinking about moving blog provider when I come back from Switzerland or will that confuse things even more? Any advice or thoughts would be much appreciated.

Anyway onto happier things I am off on holiday, in fact by the time this goes up I will be there… or even back who knows (I mustn’t think of that or I will worry while I am away and am on an internet break) and so of course I need to have some books to take on my travels. I think I have shown you how I do this before, in fact I have, but I base my travelling choices like this…

a) Something big I have been meaning to read for ages
b) A guilty pleasure read in case the above really just doesn’t work out, you know something slightly erm… un-literary??!!
c) Something by one of my favourite authors
d) Something brand spanking new ‘just in’ as you never know
e) A good crime novel
f) Something that has been hovering on my TBR pile and reading radar for sometime

Now because I am away for a week and doing a lot of train travelling across the Swiss landscape there will therefore be a lot of dragging of suitcases, so I have limited myself to five but some of them fit in several categories! So my Swiss TBR pile is looking very much like this…

Vanish – Tess Gerritsen
I love Tess as and author and frankly I have been holding of the next in the series for as long as physically possible. She’s becoming less and less of a guilty pleasure and more and more of an open obsession plus its crime and something that should keep my mind off being up in the air in a plane which I hate with a passion.

Wavewalker – Stella Duffy
You know that I love Stella’s work and this is the second in her crime series. I really enjoyed the first and so have high hopes for this, I will be saving it for my flight back as think it will take my mind of being in a tin can so many miles above the earth. Moving swiftly on…

Daphne – Justine Picardie
I have now said I will take this with me and read it on three holidays and its getting out of hand. A book all about the wonderful Daphne Du Maurier and The Bronte’s really is a must read, shame on me. I have just realised I still haven’t done a review of the new Daphne short stories so I will sort that out when I am back.

The Devil’s Paintbrush – Jake Arnott
This sees Jake leave the crime Genre and go all historical on us. I don’t have too much of an insight into what it’s about as I am desperate for it to be a surprise. It’s also been on a travel trip with me and come back unread, second time lucky let’s hope.

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters
How could I not, I have managed to hold of the whole way through the Orange shortlist and I refuse to hold off any longer. That is all I have to say on it for the matter. A few of you seem quite divided on this book which has made me all the more intrigued.

…Now tell me London City Airport doesn’t have a book shop does it that could be lethal with time to kill and nerves galore!?! Oh and additional comment, please don’t be offended if I don’t visit your blogs or comment back on here while I am away, I will do so with gusto when I am back!

Blogger Not Blogging

Hello, just a quick note to say that blogs from Sunday onwards maybe randomly appearing over the next 24 hours, so dont think I havent been blogging it appears that Blogger has a bug and theres some faults going on. This isnt very helpful when I am flying off to Switzerland in less than 24 hours and am trying to programme timed blogs daily whilst I am away! How selfish of it all... erm thats all. When the blogs have all sorted themselves out it will be like a lovely bumper read for you all, after which... this message will self destruct! Ha!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Burnt Shadows - Kamila Shamsie

This was actually the book that the person who was once named The Non Reader, and has now become The Converted One (thanks to Books Psmith - Brighton Rock in the post) bought me quite a while back. In such an effort to find a book that I liked and didn’t own, The Converted One checked in all my TBR boxes and piles, on my shelves, even asked a few friends and then made sure the reviews in the press and some of my favourite authors quotes we all good before buying.. I have to say The Converted One’s research would have culminated into one of my favourite books of the year… only for the book to then turn up three days later in the post from the people at Bloomsbury! It’s the thought though that counts!

Burnt Shadows for me has been a complete and utter joy to read. In fact I could go as far as to say its one of the rare books that you pick up, devour, put down and then get itching to start at again. It’s going to be a hard book to review because there is so much to encompass and so much to praise but I will do my best.

The story follows possibly my favourite character of the year so far (and there have been a few contenders) Hiroko Tanaka on August the 9th 1945 in Nagasaki just before they dropped the bomb and ‘the world turns white’. Though Hiroko survives her German lover Konrad is killed. Two years later as India declares its independence she turns up on his half-sisters door step in Delhi with nowhere to stay and becomes attracted to their servant Sajjad and all this is in the first 60 pages. The book then follows Hiroko’s story and the story of people around her (that’s all I am saying trying not to plot spoil) through more pivotal times in history such as the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and America post 9/11.

Burnt Shadows as you can probably tell is an epic novel. However despite the subject matter, which is dealt with in a thought provoking, shocking, touching and yet tactful the book never feels heavy even though at times it is wrought with emotion. If I had one small complaint it would be that I could have read another 200 pages easily. In keeping the book just over 340 pages long Shamsie does hurry slightly towards the quite amazing climax.

Hiroko herself is an additional reason that you should read the book. A quirky sparky victim of her times at no one point does she ever complain she just keeps trying and hoping (this isn’t a woe is me tale because Shamsie doesn’t ever let it be) and most importantly observing. Some would say that to cover all the different era’s, cultures, and issues of this time span would be far too ambitious for any writer and yet I thought that Shamsie did this effortlessly, there must have been hours and hours of research that went into this book and without question it has paid off. I can unashamedly say that I think this is one of my favourite books of the year so far no question.

I don’t feel that I have written enough to justify what an amazing book it is, but then I don’t really think I could if I wrote for about ten pages of praise for the novel. I will simply say please read it. Do I think it could win the Orange Prize? Yes I do and part of me thinks that it definitely should however it has one contender which I haven’t reviewed yet which I think is the other most deserving winner and in fact I am hoping that both of these books make it onto the Man Booker list later in the year, but more of that another time…