Thursday, June 28, 2012

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop - The Winners

Well, it’s 28th June and this edition of the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop has drawn to a close.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit many of the other participating blogs as a busy weekend was followed by a business trip but, judging by the blogs I did manage to get to, there will be some very lucky winners today.

Anyway, I was offering two people a copy of the PG Wodehouse book of their choice from my list of ten favourites.  Thank you to every one who popped by and commented but there can, I’m afraid, be only two winners and they are……………..

Firstly, theonlymrsJo, who chose Uncle Dynamite, a wonderful Uncle Fred novel and a classic bit of Wodehouse country house comedy.  And………….

Secondly, Lilian from A Novel Toybox, who asked me to make a choice for her.  So, she will be receiving a copy of the Code of the Woosters, with my compliments.

Congratulations and I will be in touch with you both to get delivery details shortly.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop - Come and Get it!

Time seems to pass at an ever increasing rate of knots these days and it doesn’t seem five minutes since the last Literary Giveaway Blog Hop.  Still here we all are again and, as ever, this edition of the hop has been wonderfully organised and hosted by Judith at Leeswammes Blog.

As with my previous participations in the giveaway, I like to give people something of a choice and so, as before, I have listed below ten books from which you may choose but this time I’m being more restrictive as I am taking another opportunity to proselytise shamelessly on behalf of one of my favourite authors.

I’ve written elsewhere on my blog about how I came to discover P.G. Wodehouse as a schoolboy and he has remained a central part of my reading habits ever since.  His effortlessly elegant prose and humour is sublime and the eternally sunny and pleasant upper class England that forms his fictional world remains a world that never fails to cheer, no matter how bad or sad a mood I’m in.  I truly believe that he is one of the greatest humorists who has ever written in the English language.

Of course, if you are familiar with Wodehouse, none of this will be a surprise, unless you are one of those people who was hiding behind the door when God was handing out senses of humour.  If not, then I heartily recommend almost any of his books as a cure for the blues and a joyful treat.

Wodehouse is, of course, chiefly known for Jeeves and Wooster but, in his lengthy career, he gave us many more wonderful characters such as Lord Emsworth and Galahad Threepwood, Psmith, Ukridge, Lord Ickenham and Mr Mulliner.  They are all well worth checking out and, hopefully, I will be giving two of you the chance to do so.

I’ve listed below ten of my favourite PG Wodehouse books, ranging from the classic Jeeves and Wooster stories through to lesser known works.  All you have to do is to read the list and then leave a comment, telling me which one you would like to receive.  Once the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop finishes on Wednesday night, I will randomly select two of you and those of you who come out of the hat will receive a lovely hardback copy of the gorgeous Everyman edition of the book you requested.  

So here goes................

1.       Psmith in the City.  This is probably PGW’s most autobiographical book and centres around the exploits of Psmith (with a silent “P”) and his faithful amanuensis, Mike Jackson, in the New Asiatic Bank.

2.       The Code of the Woosters.  In my opinion, one of the best Jeeves and Wooster books, this has Bertie forced into stealing a silver cow creamer by his Aunt Dahlia, whilst desperately trying to keep two of his chums engaged to girls who might otherwise threaten to marry him and to avoid a thrashing from the awful Roderick Spode.  Classic.

3.       Summer Lightning.  This instalment of the Blandings Castle saga has the usual quota of stolen pigs, imposters infesting Blandings and sundered love affairs but centres around the manuscript of Galahad Threepwood’s scandalous memoirs, a document so racy that half the titled aristocrats in England would be deeply embarrassed should they ever see the light of day.

4.       Uncle Dynamite.  The fifth Earl of Ickenham, better known as Uncle Fred, is on the loose, as Lady Ickenham has gone to the Caribbean for a wedding.  This spells trouble for his long-suffering nephew, Pongo Twistleton, as Uncle Fred determines to resolve Pongo’s problems in his own inimitable and ever so slightly dodgy way.

5.       The Inimitable Jeeves.  Opinion seems to be divided as to whether PGW’s short stories are as strong as his novels.  I am firmly in the “yes” camp on this and would cite this collection of interlinked Jeeves and Wooster stories in support of this.  Frankly, I’d have included it solely because of the brilliant “Sir Roderick Comes to Lunch” even if the others weren’t also hilarious.

6.       Mulliner Nights.  Mr Mulliner is the leading light of the Angler’s Rest pub, in which he can usually be found dispensing wisdom through the medium of stories involving members of his widely spread family.  This is a collection of nine stories that are little gems of gentle humour.

7.       Blandings Castle and Elsewhere.  A varied collection of short stories, featuring Blandings, Mr Mulliner and Bobbie Wickham, one of Bertie Wooster’s matrimonial escapes, I’ve picked this for two absolute gems, Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey and Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend.

8.       The Clicking of Cuthbert.  Although a keen golfer, Wodehouse never took it seriously (unlike cricket, about which he was fanatical) and he wrote a number of very funny short stories set in a golf club.  These were usually narrated by the Oldest Member, an archetypal pub bore, who would lurk in the clubhouse bar, just waiting for the chance to unleash his stories on an unwilling public.

9.       Carry on, Jeeves.  More Jeeves and Wooster short stories but, in a number of these, Bertie has fled to New York, following some unpleasantness with Aunt Agatha.  This volume contains two more of my favourite PGW short stories, “The Artistic Career of Corky” and “The Aunt and the Sluggard”.

10.   Psmith, Journalist. Another PGW book set in New York, this one is unusual as he actually deals with an issue of social conscience, slum landlords, a departure from his usual refusal to take anything seriously.  It’s a oddity in his catalogue but still great.

So, there we have it.  Ten to choose from so leave a comment with your choice below and then go and visit one of these other participants in the giveaway.  Good luck and come back on 28 June to see if you have won!

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Candle Beam Book Blog
  3. Musings of a Bookshop Girl
  4. The Book Whisperer
  5. Book Journey (US/CA)
  6. breieninpeking (Dutch readers)
  7. bibliosue
  8. heavenali
  9. I Read That Once...
  10. The Parrish Lantern
  11. The Bibliomouse (Europe)
  12. Tell Me A Story
  13. Seaside Book Nook
  14. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  15. Sam Still Reading
  16. Nishita's Rants and Raves
  17. Readerbuzz
  18. Books Thoughts Adventures (North America)
  19. 2,606 Books and Counting
  20. Laurie Here (US/CA)
  21. Literary Winner (US)
  22. Dolce Bellezza
  23. The House of the Seven Tails
  24. The Book Diva's Reads (US)
  25. Colorimetry
  26. Roof Beam Reader
  27. Kate's Library
  28. Minding Spot (US)
  29. Silver's Reviews (US)
  30. Book'd Out
  31. Fingers & Prose (US)
  32. Chocolate and Croissants
  33. Scattered Figments
  34. Lucybird's Book Blog
  35. The Book Club Blog
  1. Lizzy's Literary Life
  2. The Book Stop
  3. Reflections from the Hinterland (US)
  4. Lena Sledge's Blog
  5. Read in a Single Sitting
  6. The Little Reader Library (UK)
  7. The Blue Bookcase (US)
  8. 1morechapter (US)
  9. The Reading and Life of a Bookworm
  10. Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
  11. My Sweepstakes City (US)
  12. De Boekblogger (Europe, Dutch readers)
  13. Exurbanis
  14. Sweeping Me (US/CA)
  15. Living, Learning, and Loving Life (US)
  16. Beauty Balm
  17. Uniflame Creates
  18. Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book (US/CA)
  19. Curiosity Killed The Bookworm
  20. Nose in a book (Europe)
  21. Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews (US)
  22. Giraffe Days
  23. Page Plucker
  24. Based on a True Story
  25. Read, Write & Live
  26. Devin Berglund (N. America)
  27. Ephemeral Digest
  28. Under My Apple Tree (US)
  29. Annette Berglund (US)
  30. Book Nympho
  31. A Book Crazy, Jane Austen Lovin' Gal (US)
  32. Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Top Ten (ahem) Wednesday: Time to rewind

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (brought to us, as ever, by the Broke and the Bookish) is a Top Ten Tuesday Rewind, offering us the chance to revisit a previous theme.  I did think of picking one of the freebie weeks as my rewind week, thereby giving me the chance to make something up but it didn’t seem to be quite in the spirit of the rewind theme so, instead, I’m picking a theme from before I started participating in Top Ten Tuesdays.
And so, I’m going right back to the beginning, to the very first Top Ten Tuesday and revealing to you ten of my favourite childhood reads, thereby also making it very clear just how aged and decrepit I really am.  You will find no Harry Potter here for I was well into my working life by the time JK Rowling unleashed him on an unwitting world.  My list won’t include anything by Philip Pullman, Anthony Horowitz, Jacqueline Wilson or Michael Morpurgo – again, I preceded them.  Nope, instead, we are heading back to the last days of glam rock, the hey-days of punk and the birth of the New Romantics to the part of my childhood after I learned to read but before I graduated to adult fare.  Sit back and either join me in wallowing in nostalgia or, instead, have a good laugh at the way we used to read.
1.       Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.  If I’m being honest, I could probably fill out the majority of a list like this with Roald Dahl titles.  I can’t think of anyone else who has managed to infuse his stories with that hint of wickedness that so appeals to small children.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory plays both on that sense of mischief and every child’s love of confectionary to create an all-time classic.  I still have a copy on the shelves downstairs and am looking forward to sharing it with mini-Falaise
2.      The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm by Norman Hunter.  I could have picked a number of the Branestawm books for this list but used the first in the series for simplicity’s sake.  As a child, I delighted in the adventures of the absent-minded professor and his weird and wonderful inventions that were both improbable and doomed to failure. 
3.      The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton.  Without in any way endorsing the outdated views that pervade much of Blyton’s writing, she did write exceedingly good adventure stories.  It seems invidious to single out one of her series and not to mention The Secret Seven or The Famous Five but I think that the Adventure series was my favourite.  I liked the fact that the kids basically solved their adventures virtually without adult assistance and I also loved Kiki the parrot, an integral part of the gang.
4.      The Agaton Sax books by Nils-Olof Franzen.  I only read a few of these and can’t decide which one to use as my exemplar but these stories of the amazing Swedish detective (and editor of the Bykoping Post) were fantastic and hilarious.  And, even better, the English editions were illustrated by the brilliant Quentin Blake.
5.      Diving Adventure by Willard Price.  Another series I revelled in, Price’s children’s books featured two teenage zoologists, Roger and Hal Hunt, and their wildlife themed adventures.  I particularly enjoyed the sea-based ones and as Diving Adventure also included a James Bond-like underwater city, it became my favourite.  They’ve recently been re-issued in the UK and I have given a copy of the first two to my oldest nephew to try and entice him into their world.
6.      The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.  At the age of around ten or eleven, I found a tatty old copy of The Fellowship of the Ring in a cabinet in our living room at home and, having already read The Hobbit, fell in love with LotR immediately.  The following summer, I won a couple of prizes at my prep school and used them to acquire the remaining two volumes.  The love affair continues to this day. 
7.      Asterix at the Olympic Games by Goscinny and Uderzo.  Please get out your violins and hankies now for a sad, sad tale.  You see, I was never really allowed comics as a child – my father thought they weren’t educational enough.  True, I managed to get the occasional read of my friends’ comics but none of my own.  But, one day, while out shopping with my mother, I managed to persuade her to buy Asterix at the Olympic Games as it was in paperback book format, albeit in black and white.  She didn’t realise it was actually a comic book.  Result.  Old Man Falaise was predictably unimpressed (with both of us) but I read it over and over until it fell apart.  The happy ending?  I persuaded my father that Asterix in French was actually educational and was then allowed to buy vivid colour hardback copies on our summer holidays in France, most of which I still have on my shelves.
8.      James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.  I was intending to list only one novel by any given author in this list but have to make an exception for the amazing Mr Dahl as I simply can’t choose between this and Charlie.  After all, wouldn’t it be cool to cross the Atlantic in a huge peach?
9.      Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.  I grew up in the suburban south east of England and so this tale of sailing and camping on the Norfolk broads was a dream-inspiring piece of escapism for me.  It’s quite “lashings of ginger beer” but none the worse for that.  I would have thought that anything that can inspire kids to put down the Xbox and venture outside should be encouraged.
10.   My Friend Mr Leakey by J.B.S. Haldane.  I can’t actually remember too much about this book other than it features a magician with a flying carpet, a little dragon who grills fish with his fiery breath and that I absolutely loved it as a small child.  My principal memory of it was that Mr Leakey gives the children custard apples.  As a small child, the idea of apples that tasted like custard blew my mind and I spent years trying to find a custard apple.  When I finally did (as a twenty something), I was desperately disappointed.
It’s funny but thinking about this list has brought back all sorts of memories of childhood reading, favourite books (I haven’t even mentioned The Moomins, The Phantom Tollbooth or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and childhood generally.  I know most of the above are probably a little innocent or simple compared to the “issues based” childrens’ books that appear to be so popular these days but I can’t help feeling that they are still worth keeping and reading with our little ones.  Or maybe I’m just viewing things through rose tinted specs.