The Blogger Recognition Award

I’m amazed and delighted to have been nominated for The Blogger Recognition Award by FictionFan at FictionFan’s Book Reviews – thank you!

The Award Rules

1. Thank the blogger/s who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.

Pinkerton's Sister

It all started in 2005 with Pinkerton’s Sister by Peter Rushforth. It’s a bizarre story seen through the main character’s, Alice’s eyes, which because she lives in a world of books is a very strange place indeed. It’s funny, well ludicrous at times, full of literary and musical references and I got lost in it for hours.

I decided I wanted to know more about this book and a Google Search led me to Book World’s Blog where Sandra had written a post about it (I can no longer find her blog to thank her.)  I had not heard about blogs before, but I was hooked and using her blogroll I discovered more book blogs. I decided to write one myself mainly to keep a record of what I’d read, but it took me another year before I plucked up the courage to make a start in July 2006 with a very short post and another nine months before I really got going in April 2007. I’d just left work and had more time to read and write about books, so I began this blog partly to help me remember what I’ve read and also to extend the pleasure of reading. And so ‘BooksPlease’ was born.

4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

My problem was getting started, so if you feel like that, just sit down and write and don’t worry about what others think or do. It’s your blog and you decide what you want to write about.

Be aware that blogging is addictive – and if you’re not careful you can find yourself adding more and more books to your To-Be-Read lists, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Writing a blog also means you have less time to actually read books. It’s a real balancing act, but I love it.

5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.

I don’t find this easy, so if you’d like to join in please consider yourself nominated. 

Ninth Blog Birthday!

Nine todayI started blogging on 12 April 2007, after a hesitant start with one post in July 2006. Nine years! Each year, as the anniversary comes round, I think how amazing it is that I’m still writing my blog, but it still feels like yesterday that I began it.

Since then I’ve posted 2,235 posts – most of them are book reviews, which is no surprise to me as I began BooksPlease as a way of keeping track of what I’ve read. I also write about other things, such as art, pets, places I’ve visited, personal anecdotes or thoughts, cookery, walking, travels and holidays. But it still remains mostly a book blog.

I had no idea when I began just how big a community the book blogging world is, nor that I would make contact with so many people in so many parts of the world. I had never heard of ‘memes’, didn’t know about reading challenges, but over the years I’ve taken part in many, broadening my reading interests into many different genres, and I never thought that authors would want me to review their books, nor that I would enjoy it all so much.

It’s really the contact with people that makes book blogging so enjoyable – knowing that you’re part of a world-wide group of people who love books and reading. So, thank you to all of you who read and comment on my blog – I really do appreciate it!

Blog Anniversary 12 April!

Today is the 8th anniversary of BooksPlease. Eight years ago I’d just left work and had more time to read and write about books, so I began this blog partly to help me remember what I’ve read and also to extend the pleasure of reading and to record what I thought about the books. And so ‘BooksPlease‘ was born.

I thought of calling my blog ‘Books Matter‘, or ‘Book Matters‘ but decided that it should be ‘BooksPlease‘ because they do and also because if somebody asked me what I wanted for my birthday or Christmas when I was a child I always said ”ooh, books please!

Right from the start it’s been more than just a book blog and I’ve also written about art, pets, places I’ve visited, personal anecdotes or thoughts, cookery, walking, travels and holidays, and about crafts, such as knitting and cross-stitch – and well, anything else that interests or pleases me.

On the book front a recurring theme over the years has been ‘what to read next‘. Choosing what to read next is almost as pleasurable as actually reading  the books.

This is the first photo I posted showing a pile of some of the books I had waiting to be read in April 2007. It seems so long ago now!


I don’t always manage to read all the books I list as possibles but in this case, although it took me a while, over the years I have read these books (with one exception, The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron, although I did start it –  my bookmark is still at page 61).

I really enjoy blogging  – the contact with other book bloggers, exchanging views on books and finding yet more books to read makes it even better. I love reading your comments and hope you’ll continue visiting and commenting on my blog – I really do appreciate it.

Happy Birthday BooksPlease!

SevenBooksPlease is 7 Today!

An unbelievable seven years have gone by since I started my blog! There have been many changes in those years but I’m still here on my blog. I love reading and seven years ago I decided to write about the books I read, partly to help me remember what I’ve read and also to extend the pleasure of reading and to record what I thought about the books. And so ‘BooksPlease‘ was born.

I thought of calling my blog ‘Books Matter‘, or ‘Book Matters‘ but decided that it should be ‘BooksPlease‘ because they do and also because if somebody asked me what I wanted for my birthday or Christmas when I was a child I always said ‘ooh, books please!

I can hardly believe that I’ve been blogging this long. There have been, inevitably, ups and downs over the years and there have been times when I’ve thought of giving it up, but it’s become as much a part of my life as reading is and I carry on regardless. One of the unexpected pleasures of blogging has been the contact with other like-minded people all over the world, book lovers I would never have known about, or been able to ‘meet’ who have contributed to my blog with their comments. Thank you to all of you – and I hope to continue ‘talking’ to you as long as possible.

BooksPlease is 6: A Celebration of Books

Today my blog is six years old. Reading has always been a great pleasure and I began my blog to try and capture some of that pleasure. So, I thought that for today’s anniversary post I’d look back at some of the books I’ve read over the last six years that stand out in my mind as being most enjoyable.

It’s difficult with so many books to choose from and there are plenty more I could highlight, but here are six of the best fiction books and six of the best non fiction. I think the books I’ve chosen show the range of books that I enjoy – historical fiction, crime fiction, contemporary fiction, autobiography, history, poetry (just a few poets) and philosophy/psychology.

Over these last six years I’ve seen blogs come and go and there have been times when I’ve considered giving up blogging, but somehow I’ve hung on and looking back over my blog to do this post has proved to me the value of keeping it – it’s not just a record of what I’ve read but also a reminder of what I thought of the books too. And I hope my posts do convey the pleasure reading gives me.

Fiction (one from each year)

2007 – 

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. This is historical crime fiction set  in Cambridge in 1170 during the reign of Henry II. A child has been murdered and others have disappeared.The Jews are suspected and Henry is keen to find the culprit as the Jewish community in Cambridge are major contributors to his Exchequer. He enlists the help of Simon of Naples, who is accompanied by Adelia, a female doctor who specialises in studying corpses. I loved this book, reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales. The medieval world is vividly brought to life and it’s a fascinating murder mystery.

2008 – 

Atonement by Ian McEwan – a book that moved me to tears. It begins on a hot day in the summer of 1935 when Briony, then aged thirteen witnesses an event between her older sister Cecelia and her childhood friend Robbie that changed all three of their lives. It’s a captivating story of the use of imagination, shame and forgiveness, love, war and class-consciousness in England in the twentieth century.

From 2009 – 

Fire in the Blood by Irène Némirovsky – a gem of a book, this is  set in a small village based on Issy-l’Eveque between the two world wars. The narrator is Silvio looking back on his life and gradually secrets that have long been hidden rise to the surface, disrupting the lives of the small community.  It is an intense story of life and death, love and burning passion. It’s about families and their relationships €“ husbands and wives, young women married to old men,  lovers, mothers, daughters and stepdaughters.

From 2010 – 

Wolf Hall coverWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – this is my favourite, so far, of Mantel’s trilogy about the story of Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith, and his political rise, set against the background of Henry VIII’s England.This first book in the trilogy is about his struggle with the King over his desire to marry Anne Boleyn. It transported me back to that time, with Mantel’s descriptions of the pageantry, the people, the places and the beliefs and attitudes of the protagonists. A wonderful book.

From 2011 – 

Blood HarvestBlood Harvest by S J Bolton. Crime fiction set in the fictional town of Heptonclough in Lancashire where the Fletcher family have just moved into a new house built on land right next to the boundary wall of the churchyard.  I was completely convinced not only by the setting but also by the characterisation that the place and the people in this book were real. It’s full of tension, terror and suspense and I was in several minds before the end as to what it was all about. I had an inkling but I hadn’t realised the full and shocking truth.

From 2012 – 

The Secret River 001The Secret River by Kate Grenville €“ this book completely captivated me and I could hardly wait to get back to it each time I had to put it down. It’s historical fiction, straight-forward story-telling following William Thornhill from his childhood in the slums of London to his new life in Australia in the early 19th century. Dramatic, vivid and thought-provoking, this novel raises several issues €“ about crime and punishment, about landownership, defence of property, power, class and colonisation.

Non Fiction:

2007 –

On Trying to Keep Still by Jenny Diski  about her travels during a year when she visited New Zealand, spent three months in a cottage in Somerset and went to sample the life of the Sami people of Swedish Lapland. This is also a personal memoir, and is about being still, being alone, wanting to be alone, phobias and the problems of coping with life and especially with aging.  I can indentify with her feelings such as not wanting to make a noise in case people notice that I’m there, not wanting others to worry about me, and worrying that others are worrying about me; feeling the need to do something such as going out for a walk €“ not the desire to do it for itself but the feeling that I should want to. It’s a moving, amusing, thought-provoking and original book.

2008 –

Our Longest Days  by the writers of Mass Observation, edited by Sandra Koa Wing. In August 1939, with war approaching, the Mass Observation Organisation asked its panel to keep diaries to record their daily lives and selections from fifteen of these diaries are included in Our Longest Days. Because they are personal accounts there is that sense of being actually there during the air raids, hearing Churchill’s speeches, reading the newspaper reports, experiencing the grief at the number of casualties and deaths and the terrible devastation of the war, the food and clothes rationing and the excitement of D-Day.

also from 2008:

Robert Frost (The Illustrated Poets series) – a slim little book with a selection of Frost’s verse illustrated by American, English and French painters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Frost’s poems are written in deceptively simple language but they convey great depth of meaning. They are compact and powerful. And the illustrations are beautiful.

2009 – 

The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson, a fascinating look at life in Britain during the summer of George V’s Coronation year, 1911.  It was one of the hottest years of the twentieth century and also a summer of discontent as the country was almost brought to a standstill by industrial strikes and the enormous gap between the privileged and the poor was becoming more and more obvious. It covers a wide spectrum €“ from King George’s accession to the throne to débutantes  politicians, poets, factory workers, writers, and women trade unionists. There is little about the suffragettes €“ they agreed a summer truce for the Coronation.

 2010 –

Agatha Christie: an Autobiography As well as being a record of her life as she remembered it and wanted to relate it, it’s also full of  her thoughts and reflections on life and writing. She wrote about her childhood, teenage years, friends and family, and her marriage to Archibald Christie; but although she wrote about their divorce she didn’t write about her disappearance in 1926. She wrote about her travels around the world, the two world wars, her interest and involvement with archaeology and her marriage to Max Mallowan.  I read it in short sections and felt quite sad when I came to the end. It was like having a daily chat with Agatha.

2011 –

Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre – this is about the Allies’ deception plan code-named Operation Mincemeat in 1943, which underpinned the invasion of Sicily. It was framed around a man who never was. The plan was to take a dead body, equipped with false documents, deposit it on a beach in Spain, so that it would be passed over to the Germans and divert them from the real target. Totally outside my usual range of reading this was so far-fetched as to be almost like reading a fictional spy story. I marvelled at the ingenuity of the minds of the plans’ originators and the daring it took to carry it out.

PS – I’ve enjoyed compiling this post so much that I’m thinking of doing something similar for the paintings and places I’ve written about.

BooksPlease is 5!

Who’d have thought this blog would go on for five years? Not me, and yet here I am five years later still writing about books and lots of other things that please me. Blogging is now part of my life and I love it. Thanks to everyone who visits and especially to those who make comments – it wouldn’t be the same without you.

Happy Birthday BooksPlease!

BooksPlease is 4 years old today!

I find it hard to believe that I’ve been writing this blog for 4 years. It seems like it was only yesterday I tentatively clicked on ‘publish’  for the first time.

Over these last 4 years I’ve read almost 400 books and have written about the  majority of them. I’ve also written about places I love to visit but my blog has stayed mainly about books.

The greatest change in my reading has come about gradually over the last two years or so, in that I now read a lot more crime fiction than I ever did before and that’s down to other bloggers, but also because I find crime fiction books are about so much more than crime. There is such variety in crime fiction – dealing with contemporary issues, historical crime (true and fictional), moral and ethical issues, personal and psychological crimes, and organised crime and so on. There are police procedurals, private detectives, amateur sleuths, serial killers and racial and political crime thrillers. And I love variety in my reading.

Books Please Me

I’ve also found that blogging isn’t a solitary pursuit, although it can be if you want. I’ve ‘met’ so many kindred spirits on book blogs and other blogs too. There are numerous reading challenges and memes to join and the opportunity to discuss books with people world wide. I’m very happy that I ventured into the book blogosphere. Thanks to everyone who reads my blog and especially to those who’ve taken the time and effort to make comments.

Weekly Geeks – Overly Critical?

This week’s Weekly Geeks host Tara asks if we are OCRs?

O.C.R. = Overly Critical Reader


  • not liking characters in the beginning
  • needing the main character to prove themselves before you’ll respect them
  • rolling your eyes while reading
  • needing things to be completely realistic
  • shouting things such as “WTF?!”
  • needing every plot twist and turn to be foreseeable

I don’t think I’m overly critical. I’m quite fussy about what I read in the first instance, so many books just don’t get a look in beyond the first page. I want to enjoy what I’m reading so I don’t start any book that looks boring or as though it’s not well written.

I do get exasperated when I read a description or a fact that I know is wrong, but a book doesn’t have to be completely realistic – I can suspend my disbelief to a certain extent. And I certainly don’t want every plot twist and turn to be foreseeable because that would be far too predictable.

I don’t feel the need to like all the characters, in fact unlikeable characters can be more interesting and necessary to the plot. It would be terribly boring if every character was ‘nice’.

I like reading critical reviews because then it gives me another view from the gushing praise some reviewers give (on Amazon for example), so in my reviews I like to say why I don’t like certain aspects of a book if I’ve found it disappointing or poorly written and give an overall idea of whether I loved it or not. I don’t give ratings on my blog, but I do on LibraryThing, where my average rating is 4 stars (out of 5). I also rate each book privately as I read it; most are between 3.5 and 5, where 5 is excellent and 3 is average. I don’t put it on the blog because it’s very subjective. I’ve noticed that this varies from blog to blog and I’m wondering  if I should start putting my rating in the review?