Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Century of Books

I have set myself the 2012 challenge of reading a book published in every year of the twentieth century... here are the links to all the books I've read and reviewed so far!

1900 - Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome
1901 - The Spinster Book by Myrtle Reed
1902 - The Westminster Alice by Saki
1903 - Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw
1904 - Canon in Residence by V.L. Whitechurch
1905 - Lovers in London by A.A. Milne
1906 - The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
1907 - The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
1908 - The World I Live In by Helen Keller
1909 - The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter
1910 - Reginald in Russia by Saki
1911 - In A German Pension by Katherine Mansfield
1912 - Daddy Long-legs by Jean Webster
1913 - When William Came by Saki
1914 - What It Means To Marry by Mary Scharlieb
1915 - Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
1916 - Love At Second Sight by Ada Leverson
1917 - Zella Sees Herself by E.M. Delafield
1918 - Married Love by Marie Stopes
1919 - Not That It Matters by A.A. Milne
1920 - The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
1921 - The Witch-Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Murray
1922 - Spinster of this Parish by W.B. Maxwell
1923 - Uncanny Stories by May Sinclair
1924 - The Rector's Daughter by F.M. Mayor
1925 - Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
1926 - Blindness by Henry Green
1927 - Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann
1928 - Time Importuned by Sylvia Townsend Warner
1929 - A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
1930 - His Monkey Wife by John Collier
1931 - Opus 7 by Sylvia Townsend Warner
1932 - Green Thoughts by John Collier
1933 - More Women Then Men by Ivy Compton-Burnett
1934 - Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
1935 - The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen
1936 - Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner
1937 - The Outward Room by Millen Brand
1938 - Dear Octopus by Dodie Smith
1939 - Three Marriages by E.M. Delafield
1940 - One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie
1941 - Country Moods and Tenses by Edith Olivier
1942 - The Outsider by Albert Camus
1943 - Talking of Jane Austen by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G.B. Stern
1944 - Elders and Betters by Ivy Compton-Burnett
1945 - At Mrs. Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor
1946 - Mr. Allenby Loses The Way by Frank Baker
1947 - One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes
1948 - The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner
1949 - Ashcombe: The Story of a Fifteen-Year Lease by Cecil Beaton
1950 - Jane Austen by Margaret Kennedy
1951 - I. Compton-Burnett by Pamela Hansford Johnson
1952 - Miss Hargreaves: the play by Frank Baker
1953 - Guard Your Daughters by Diana Tutton
1954 - M for Mother by Marjorie Riddell
1955 - The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens
1956 - All The Books of My Life by Sheila Kaye-Smith
1957 - Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson
1958 - Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris by Paul Gallico
1959 - Miss Plum and Miss Penny by Dorothy Evelyn Smith
1960 - The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark
1961 - A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
1962 - Coronation by Paul Gallico
1963 - A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford
1964 - The Garrick Year by Margaret Drabble
1965 - Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson
1966 - In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
1967 - The Joke by Milan Kundera
1968 - A Cab at the Door by V.S. Pritchett
1969 - Sunlight on Cold Water by Francoise Sagan
1970 - Frederick the Great by Nancy Mitford
1971 - Ivy & Stevie by Kay Dick
1972 - Ivy Compton-Burnett: a memoir by Cecily Greig
1973 - V. Sackville-West by Michael Stevens
1974 - Look Back With Love by Dodie Smith
1975 - Sweet William by Beryl Bainbridge
1976 - The Takeover by Muriel Spark
1977 - Injury Time by Beryl Bainbridge
1978 - Art in Nature by Tove Jansson
1979 - On The Other Side by Mathilde Wolff-Mönckeberg
1980 - The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate
1981 - Gossip From Thrush Green by Miss Read
1982 - At Freddie's by Penelope Fitzgerald
1983 - Blue Remembered Hills by Rosemary Sutcliff
1984 - The Only Problem by Muriel Spark
1985 - For Sylvia: An Honest Account by Valentine Ackland
1986 - On Acting by Laurence Olivier
1987 - The Other Garden by Francis Wyndham
1988 - Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
1989 - Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy
1990 - The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
1991 - Wise Children by Angela Carter
1992 - Curriculum Vitae by Muriel Spark
1993 - Something Happened Yesterday by Beryl Bainbridge
1994 - Deadline Poet by Calvin Trillin
1995 - The Simmons Papers by Philipp Blom
1996 - Reality and Dreams by Muriel Spark
1997 - The Island of the Colourblind by Oliver Sacks
1998 - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
1999 - La Grande Thérèse by Hilary Spurling

Happy New Year! + Wrap Up


Hey guys, can you believe it!? It's almost 2012 and wow, 2011 was fast!

I can't say 2011 was bad, actually, it was pretty amazing. I traveled, graduated, got a job. I was healthy and happy. And even when I couldn't achieve some of my goals (as my reading goals), I'm really happy and thankful for 2011.

As I kid I never understood why people cared so much about the new year, but now I get it. It's the time to start over, forget the past and write some new goals. I'm still thinking about my goals for 2012...but let's talk about my reading goals in 2011:

My 2011 Reading Challenge at Goodreads was to read 125 books. I couldn't keep up with my reading and I managed to read 89 books. Not bad actually, but less than 2010. I have excuses, of course, but how about 100 books for 2012?

I failed to achieve my goals on the Dystopia, GLBTOutdo Yourself and Cozy Mysteries Challenges, but I did great on my 1st in a Series ChallengeE-Book Challenge and Holiday Reading Challenge. =)

So, what do you think? How did you do on 2011, and what are your goals for 2012?

BTW, Happy New Year!

Holiday Reading Challenge 2011: Wrap Up

The Holiday Reading Challenge 2011 is almost over and I had such a great time participating! :D I read more books than I thought and honestly, I liked them all.

My goal was to complete the Serial Mistletoe-er level, I had read 4 to 6 holiday themed books. I actually read 9 books plus a very short story, so.....Good Job Gaby! :) I wasn't feeling very festive this holiday, but the books definitely helped me to improve my mood toward Christmas...

Anyway, are you interested in what I read?

Holiday Hideout by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jill Shalvis, Julie Kenner 

Dating Mr. December by Phillipa Ashley
Merry Christmas, Baby by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jennifer La Brecque, Rhonda Nelson
Wish Upon a Star by Sarah Morgan 

Small Town Christmas by Jill Shalvis, Hope Ramsay, Katie Lane
Only Us by Susan Mallery
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachen Cohn and David Levithan

Six Geese A-Laying by Sophie Kinsella (short story)

How did you do on your challenge? Did you like your books? Personally, I can't wait for next year xD

Book Review: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Title: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Release Date: October 26th, 2010
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Age: Young Adult
“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions? Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.
What an interesting book! I've been wanting to read Dash and Lily's Book of Dares since forever, because I've read so many good things about David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.

I'm so glad I did. It's a different book, that managed to surprise me (which isn't easy). The story starts with Dash, a very lonely and snarly boy who is alone for the holidays and on his favorite library he finds a red notebook. The notebook have clues only a boy like him would follow, and the prize of all these clues will be Lily.

Lily is a very weird girl. She's very delicate, shy and kind of awkward, but a nice and lovely girl. I think the characters aren't very realistic, it's difficult to imagine someone as Dash to exist, but I have to say I really liked them as a couple.

Their exchanges with the notebook were amazing, I loved to read them. I really wanted them to finally met, but I think I preferred when they only talked via the notebook, they were so backward when they finally met.

I think it worked that each author wrote one character and every chapters is written by the point of view of one of the protagonists. It helped to understand what was happening on their heads.

Overall, I loved Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, specially because it's an original book, and it surprised me with every turn. It's a cute story, and I recommend it if you are looking for a sweet young adult romance.

More about this book at Goodreads, Amazon, The Book Depository.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Books Read 2011

(an 'x' indicates a re-read - thanks, David, for pointing out that I'd forgotten to mention this!)

1. Howards End - E.M. Forster
2. And Furthermore - Judi Dench and John Miller
3. The English - Jeremy Paxman
4. The Skin Chairs - Barbara Comyns
5. Bonjour Tristesse - Francoise Sagan
6. Personal Pleasures - Rose Macaulay
7. A Kind Man - Susan Hill
8. Gay Life - E.M. Delafield
9. William - E.H. Young
10. Gilead - Marilynne Robinson
11. The Machine Stops/The Celestial Omnibus - E.M. Forster
12. At Large and At Small - Anne Fadiman
13. To Tell My Story - Irene Vanbrugh
14. Saplings - Noel Streatfeild
15. The Gingerbread Woman - Jennifer Johnston
16. A House in the Country - Jocelyn Playfair
17. Echo - Violet Trefusis
18. People on a Bridge - Wislawa Szymborska
19. As We Are Now - May Sarton
20. Love of Seven Dolls - Paul Gallico
21. Not to Disturb - Muriel Spark
22. The Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy
23. The Perfect Pest - Adiran Porter
24. Mr. Chartwell - Rebecca Hunt
25. Countess Under the Stairs - Eva Ibbotson
26. The Caravaners - Elizabeth von Arnim
27. Broderie Anglaise - Violet Trefusis
28. The Thought-Reading Machine - Andre Maurois
29. Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
30. Going Postal - Terry Pratchett
31. The Unbearable Bassington - Saki
32. Virginia - Jens Christian Grondahl
33. A View From Downshire Hill -Elizabeth Jenkins
34. A Truth Universally Acknowledged - (ed.) Susannah Carson
35. Illyrian Spring - Ann Bridge
36. Jennie - Paul Gallico
x37. Mr. Pim Passes By - A.A. Milne
38. Life Among the Savages - Shirley Jackson
39. How Can You Bear To Be Human? - Nicolas Bentley
40. Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
41. The Slaves of Solitude - Patrick Hamilton
42. The Lady and the Little Fox Fur - Violette Leduc
43. The Lottery and other stories - Shirley Jackson
x44. The Love-Child - Edith Olivier
x45. I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
x46. Lady Into Fox - David Garnett
x47. The Taming of the Shrew - William Shakespeare
x48. Lolly Willowes - Sylvia Townsend Warner
49. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
50. The Element of Lavishness - William Maxwell and Sylvia Townsend Warner
51. The Triumphant Footman - Edith Olivier
52. The Town in Bloom - Dodie Smith
53. Lipstick - Lady Kitty Vincent
54. Sylvia & David - the letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and David Garnett
55. Gin & Ginger - Lady Kitty Vincent
56. Dearest Jean - Rose Macaulay
57. Hotel du Lac - Anita Brookner
58. A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee - Bea Howe
59. People Who Say Goodbye - P.Y. Betts
60. Shaving Through the Blitz - G.W. Stonier
61. Exercises in Style - Raymond Queneau
62. Memento Mori - Muriel Spark
63. Red Pottage - Mary Cholmondeley
64. Westwood - Stella Gibbons
65. One Day - David Nicholls
66. Live Alone and Like It - Marjorie Hillis
67. Without Knowing Mr. Walkley - Edith Olivier
68. The Tiny Wife - Andrew Kaufman
69. Prison to Praise - Merlin Carothers
70. Safety Pins - Christopher Morley
71. A Baker's Dozen - Llewelyn Powys
72. The Earth Hums in B Flat - Mari Strachan
73. The Misses Mallett - E.H. Young
x74. Still-William - Richmal Crompton
75. Common or Garden Crime - Sheila Pim
76. Christopher and Columbus - Elizabeth von Arnim
77. Our Hearts Were Young and Gay - Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimborough
78. The Love Affairs of a Bibliomania - Eugene Field
79. The Invention of Morel - Adolfo Bioy Casares
x80. William the Good - Richmal Crompton
81. Singled Out - Virginia Nicholson
82. Two Serious Ladies - Jane Bowles
83. Appius and Virginia - G.E. Trevelyan
x84. The Backward Shadow - Lynne Reid Banks
x85. The L-Shaped Room - Lynne Reid Banks
86. Living Alone - Stella Benson
87. Night Thoughts of a Country Landlady - Edith Olivier
88. Here's How - Virginia Graham
x89. The Venetian Glass Nephew - Elinor Wylie
x90. Two Is Lonely - Lynne Reid Banks
91. The Pearl - John Steinbeck
92. The Man Who Was Thursday - G.K. Chesterton
93. So Long, See You Tomorrow - William Maxwell
94. Up At The Villa - W. Somerset Maugham
95. The Double - Fyodor Dostoevsky
96. The Amorous Bicycle - Mary Essex
97. Wasted Womanhood - Charlotte Cowdroy
x98. Miss Hargreaves - Frank Baker
99. The House - Richmal Crompton
100. Let Not The Waves of the Sea - Simon Stephenson
101. A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennesse Williams
102. Nella Last's Peace - Nella Last
103. A Covenant With Death - Stephen Becker
104. Stop What You're Doing and Read This - various
105. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
106. Eats, Shoots and Leaves - Lynne Truss

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"When we lose ourselves in a book..."

I don't think I'm going to do a traditional review of the lovely bookish essay collection Stop What You're Doing And Read This! - I'm just going to continue quoting pieces from it now and then, because there are so many wonderful little snippets from it.  And I'll try to find nice paintings of readers to accompany them (and do my best not just to copy Harriet's!) The first post was here; today's comes from author Nicholas Carr (and the painting is anonymous, unsold at a 2010 auction):

"It is only when we leave behind the incessant busyness of our lives in society that we open ourselves to literature's transformative emotional power.  That doesn't mean that reading is antisocial.  The central subject of literature is society, and when we lose ourselves in a book we often receive an education in the subtleties and vagaries of human relations.  Several studies have shown that reading tends to make us more empathetic, more alert to the inner lives of others.  The reader withdraws in order to connect more deeply."

--Nicholas Carr, 'The Dreams of Readers'
Stop What You're Doing And Read This!

Review: Only Us: A Fool's Gold Holiday by Susan Mallery

Title: Only Us: A Fool's Gold Holiday
Author: Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold #6.5
Release Date: November 1st, 2011
Publisher: HQN Books
Age: Adult
Pet groomer Carina Fiore wants nothing more than to confess her feelings to the man she loves. She's drawn to veterinarian Cameron McKenzie's good looks, caring nature and especially his devotion to his young daughter. But he's also her boss and a good friend. Putting her heart on the line could cost Rina both her job and their friendship forever. Since his divorce, Cameron hasn't been willing to trust his heart—or his daughter—with anyone else. For months he's pushed away all thoughts of taking Rina in his arms and kissing her, unwilling to risk their friendship for a single night of pleasure. But when a kiss under the mistletoe unlocks the simmering passion between them, Rina and Cameron may just find love for the holidays after all... 
An ebook exclusive Fool's Gold series novella.
I decided to read this one because a lot of people like Susan Mallery's books, so reading this novella I could get an example of her writing. Also because it was free on amazon, and because it got me when I read the protagonist are a veterinarian and a pet groomer.

Christmas is coming and all Carina "Rina" Fiore wants to do is confess her love to veterinarian Cameron McKenzie. She has been in love with him since the day they met, and she already loves his daughter. She's ready to became one of their family, except Cameron isn't so sure about it.

Being a novella, it was a very short and fast story, but I think it worked. If you have read the series (which I haven't), you are probably more familiar with the characters, but I must say the author did a good job explaining the situation and describing the characters quickly. The story was very sweet, and I loved that Cameron's daughter played a big part in it. 

I liked that Rina was so brave and decided to pour her feelings, and even when Cameron was a little difficult, I liked the way he was portrayed, as a very sweet and protective man. Of course I wanted the story to be longer, I wanted more details!!

Overall, if you are looking for a short and sweet holiday clean romance, this one is for you. It's easy to love the characters, and it got me on the mood to read more of Susan Mallery's books.

More about this novella at www.susanmallery.comGoodreads, Amazon.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

January is going to be NetGalley Month!

I'm declaring that January is going to be NetGalley Month here @ Oh My Books!


1. Declare yourself!: Write up a post, share it on Facebook, Tweet, sky writing, carrier pigeons...Somehow, let the world know you're participating and link it up below.

2. Read NetGalley books in January! And tell us about them in February :)

What do you think? I definitely need an extra push to read some of my NetGalley books, and January is the perfect time (since I don't start work until 9/01). I'm not sure which books I'm going to read, I think I will just go with the flow this time...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday # 79 - Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Can a spot on a teen reality show really lead to a scholarship at an elite cooking school AND a summer romance?
Sixteen-year-old Sophie Nicolaides was practically raised in the kitchen of her family’s Italian-Greek restaurant, Taverna Ristorante. When her best friend, Alex, tries to convince her to audition for a new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, Sophie is reluctant. But the prize includes a full scholarship to one of America's finest culinary schools and a summer in Napa, California, not to mention fame.
Once on-set, Sophie immediately finds herself in the thick of the drama—including a secret burn book, cutthroat celebrity judges, and a very cute French chef. Sophie must figure out a way to survive all the heat and still stay true to herself. A terrific YA offering--fresh, fun, and sprinkled with romance.
August 21st 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.

End of Year Meme

Tonight I shall be doing a little variation the meme I've done for the last few years - which has been developed and expanded by various other bloggers - and getting a bit more specific.  But quite a few of the same questions will reappear...  (In case you missed my Top 15 Books of 2011, click here.) First, here's the books and authors I read this year, in a pretty word cloud:

Number of books read:
Only 106, which is the fewest for quite a few years, and doesn't bode too well for my A Century of Books project... still, it's not a bad number.  (I wonder how many I bought?)

Male/Female authors ratio:
36 by men, 65 by women, and 5 by both male and female authors.

Fiction and non-fiction ratio:
28 non-fiction, 77 fiction, and one volume of poetry which could be either.

Number of re-reads:
13 - including five in a row at the beginning of June - but it was late April before I re-read anything. 

Shortest book title:
Echo by Violet Trefusis

Oldest book read:
A re-read of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare - but, the Bard aside, it is Mr. Dosteovsky and his 1846 The Double.

Newest book read:
Is, by the miracle of advance review copies, not published til 2012: Stop What You're Doing and Read This.

Books in translation:
Ten - which came under the names of Francoise Sagan, Violet Trefusis (x2), Wislawa Szymborska, Andre Maurois, Jens Christian Grondahl, Violette Leduc, Raymond Queneau, Adolfo Bioy Carlos, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. So, thank you Irene Ash, Sian Miles, Adam Czerniawski, James Whitall, Anne Born, Derek Coltman, Barbara Wright, Ruth L.C. Simms, and Constance Garnett for your translations!

Most books read by a single author:
4 by Edith Olivier; 3 by Richmal Crompon; 3 by Lynne Reid Banks.

Best non-blog recommendation:
Rhona, from my online book group, told me about my favourite book of the year, Patrick Hamilton's The Slaves of Solitude.

Best blog recommendation:
Thank you to Rachel for encouraging me to read Gilead, finally.

Most unexpectedly good book:
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, which I thought I'd hate.

Most unexpectedly bad book:
For some reason I was certain I'd love Violette Leduc's The Lady and the Little Fox Fur, based on the title, blurb, etc.  But, sadly... I didn't.   And then there was Hotel du Lac, which has put me off Anita Brookner for life.

Generally vilest book:
Wasted Womanhood by Charlotte Cowdroy.  1930s book about single, childless women. Made me want to go back in time and thwack her around her unkind head with her unkind book. 

On the other hand:
Live Alone and Like It by Marjorie Hillis, also from the interwar period and about much the same thing, was a thousand times nicer. 

Best oh-I-didn't-realise-you-wrote-other-good-books moment:
Who knew Stella Gibbons could write something like Westwood?  Very good, not remotely like Cold Comfort Farm.

Worst oh-I-wish-I'd-stopped-with-the-previous-book moment:
I thought I'd cracked Thomas Hardy last year.  And I drudged my way through The Return of the Native. 

The book which looked like it would be brilliant, but ended up having too many twists:
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.  Halfway, I thought it was book of the year.  And then the carpet was pulled from under my feet so often that I must have started on a pile a metre high.

I had no clue what was going on:
I love Muriel Spark, but Not To Disturb was incredibly confusing. 

Favourite character encountered this year:
If we're excluding a re-read of Miss Hargreaves (and we'd better) then it's got to be a late-comer to my 2011 reads: lovely Joe Gargery in Great Expectations.

Title nearest the beginning of the alphabet:
Articles not included, it's the wonderfully-titled The Amorous Bicycle by Mary Essex.

Title nearest the end of the alphabet:
Step forward, Without Knowing Mr. Walkley by Edith Olivier.

Misnomer of the year:
Jocelyn Playfair's A House in the Country does, strictly, include a house in the country, but if you're expecting a gentle tale of a summer garden party, you'll be surprised.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  (Yes, The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan is also possibly a misnomer.)

Title where I learnt a new word:
Red Pottage by Mary Cholmondeley.  Well, I say 'learnt', but I can't remember what it means.

Books with anthropomorphic animals:
Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt; Lady Into Fox by David Garnett (re-read); Jennie by Paul Gallico.

Other assorted supernatural/fantastic things which happened in novels this year (ask if you want to know the books!):
A man could miraculously heal people; a machine transcribes people's thoughts; a post-office filled with millions of letters is guarded by clay golems; a woman became a witch; a captured fairy helped unite an estranged couple; death started phoning the elderly; a wife kept shrinking; an ape learnt to talk; a man built his nephew from glass; a house tormented its occupents; a clerk encountered his doppelganger.  Oh, and Miss Hargreaves came along, of course.

Book Review: Small Town Christmas by Jill Shalvis, Hope Ramsay, Katie Lane

Title: Small Town Christmas
Authors: Jill Shalvis, Hope Ramsay, Katie Lane
Release Date: November 1st, 2011
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Age: Adult
Three heartwarming holiday stories to prove that love is the greatest gift of all. 
Kissing Santa Claus (Lucky Harbor #2.5)
NASCAR driver Logan Perrish returns to Lucky Harbor, Washington, with love in his heart and a ring in his pocket. But can Sandy Jansen forget the past and give him a second chance? Or will Logan be spending another Christmas alone? 

I'll Be Home for Christmas

After ignoring the advice of Miz Miriam Randall, local matchmaker, Annie Roberts expects another hum drum holiday in Last Chance, South Carolina. But when a stray cat arrives in the arms of Army sergeant Matt Jasper, a calico named Holly just may be the best matchmaker of all. 

O Little Town of Bramble

All Ethan Miller wants for Christmas is to celebrate in Bramble, Texas, with family and friends. But when his childhood neighbor, Samantha Henderson, comes home for the holiday, Ethan realizes that the girl-next-door could be the girl of his dreams.
I've been reading holidays anthologies this month, and I'm glad I read Small Town Christmas. It features three very short stories, very sweet and romantic.

Kissing Santa Claus by Jill Shalvis is part of the Lucky Harbor series and it's about NASCAR driver Logan Perrish, who returns to Lucky Harbor with a ring in his pocket for Sandy, the woman he couldn't forget. He's used for women to throw themselves at his feet, but Sandy isn't exactly happy with him. Maybe because it has been five months since they spend a week together. I'm not familiar with the Lucky Harbor series, but it does sound sweet. Sandy and Logan's story is very quick and I really wanted to slow down and learn more about them, but I guess I have to read the series for that. Still, I enjoyed it.

I'll Be Home for Christmas by Hope Ramsay is about Annie Roberts, who is alone for this Christmas until she met Army sergeant Matt Jasper. He's in Last Chance to deliver a gift, but he found a stray cat and he doesn't have a place to go. This story is extremely sweet, about two lonely people finding love when the least expected it. Definitely one of those stories that makes you cry. 

Little Town of Bramble by Katie Lane was probably my favorite, because it's the funniest and sweetest story of all. Samantha Henderson, a veterinarian, is back to her home town and the first thing she wants to do is see Ethan Miller. her childhood friend. Ethan Miller is very surprised to see her, all grown up. Still, he finds it difficult to talk to her, so he's about to give up until Samantha's sister decide to intervene. This story had me laughing out loud with the live nativity scene, and even when it's a little bit unrealistic sometimes, it was so sweet that I just felt happy for the characters.

Overall, if you want to read quick, sweet and happy holiday stories, this is your book. They were short, clean, full of romantic gestures and very enjoyable.

More about this book at Goodreads, Amazon.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Doctor Who is on downstairs, and since I am both (a) not a fan of Doctor Who, and (b) a coward, I am sitting in my room and writing a blog post about Great Expectations.  There is something of a link, though, since people in Britain will be able to watch an adaptation of Great Expectations on 27th December - I'm looking forward to it, even with Dickens adaptations being, in general, not so great.  What makes Dickens so brilliant, to my mind, is the way he writes the narrative, and the pacing of the dialogue - which is usually lost on television, for some reason.  More on that later...

I actually started Great Expectations over a year ago - I held off reading it too quickly in the final days of December 2010 lest it unsettle my Top Books of 2010... and yet, the year whirled by, and I finished it after having compiled my Top Books of 2011.  It might have been on there.  Now we'll never know...

What can I possibly say about Great Expectations (1861) and Charles Dickens?  I suspect the outline of the plot is known to most of us - Pip looks back on his life, starting with a graveyard encounter with a terrifying convict... Miss Havisham... Estella... Jaggers... and Bob's your uncle.  Because, of course, the plot is too complicated and strange to recount in any detail.  The characters are too many and manifold, some of which (like Miss Havisham) have entered the nation's consciousness - others, equally wonderful, have not.  Pip's sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, who complains at all times of having to 'bring him up by hand', is equally wonderful an invention.  Kind, honest Joe Gargery ("Pip - what larks!"), with his twisting attempts at speech, meaning all sentences seem to start with the word 'which', is about the loveliest character in any novel I've ever read.  Here he is, in conversation with Pip, who has stopped visiting Miss Havisham and is now Joe's apprentice (the typos are his):
"Here am I, getting on in the first year of my time, and since the day of my being bound I have never thanked Miss Havisham, or asked after her, or shown that I remember her."

"That's true, Pip; and unless you was to turn her out a set of shoes all four round - and which I meantersay as even a set of shoes all four round might not act acceptable as a present in a total wacancy of hoofs --"

"I don't mean that sort of remembrance, Joe; I don't mean a present."

But Joe had got the idea of a present in his head and must harp upon it.  "Or even," said he, "if you was helped to knocking her up a new chain for the front door - or say a gross or two of shark-headed screws for general use - or some light fancy article, such as a toasting-fork when she took her muffins - or a gridiron when she took a sprat or such like ---"

"I don't mean any present at all, Joe," I interposed.

"Well," said Joe, still harping on it as though I had particularly pressed it, "if I was yourself, Pip, I wouldn't.  No, I would not.  For what's a door-chain when she's got one always up?  And shark-headers is open to misrepresentations.  And if it was a toasting-fork, you'd go into brass and do yourself no credit.  And the oncommonest workman can't show himself oncommon in a gridiron - for a gridiron is a gridiron," said Joe, steadfastly impressing it upon me, as if he were endeavouring to rouse me from a fixed delusion, "and you may haim at what you like, but a gridiron it will come out, either by your leave or again your leave, and you can't help yourself---"

"My dear Joe," I cried in desperation, taking hold of his coat, "don't go on in this way.  I never thought of making Miss Havisham any present."

"No, Pip," Joe assented, as if he had been contending for that all along, "and what I say to you is, you are right, Pip."
Now, you either do or don't find that incredibly funny.  I do.  I really do.  But what I cannot accept is that it is boring.  How Dickens has got the reputation for being boring, I cannot imagine.  Maybe it's those TV adaptations, after all?  Because I believe that Dickens is, perhaps after P.G. Wodehouse, the best comedic writer that Britain has ever produced.

Whenever humorous writing is discussed, it's a matter of course to point out that humour is impossible to explain, and if you don't find something funny then no amount of argument will change things.  And that's true.  But I think I can pinpoint what it is I love most about Dickens' humour - and it's the verbal tics he gives characters.  I think it's seen better in Our Mutual Friend, but it's present in all the Dickens novels I've read (which amounts only to four, come to think of it.)  Whether it's Jaggers' insistence upon precision or Joe's 'larks' or Wemmick's 'portable property', there is no author, except Patrick Hamilton, who uses repetition so perfectly.  He threads these traits through his novels, always ridiculous but never impossible, and holds together his plots filled by these delightful grotesques.  Grotesque in the sense of odd and exaggerated rather than disgusting.  His characters are not realistic, but, hidden in the surrealism of the stories and their enactors, lie truths and humanity and reality.  Wonderfully sewn up with the absurd.

But Dickens, of course, is not simply a wonderful dance of the ridiculous - the sort which inspires Spark, Comyns, Bowles - but a constant tightrope between the funny and the saccharine.  For while Dickens' reputation for dullness is unwarranted, there is plenty of evidence to support the stereotype of orphans dying, overpowered by the force of their own virtue, Little Nell, etc. etc.  This is the sort of thing which survives most in film and TV adaptations, with inevitable tinkly piano music, and it is an image which does Dickens a disservice.  This strain is mostly kept at bay in Great Expectations, but does escape a bit in the final third.  I tire of it myself, but if that aspect of Dickens' writing were not present, he'd probably be even meaner than Evelyn Waugh.  No sadistic writer ever came up with the ogres and tyrants of Dickens - but because they are not realistic, they are not truly terrifying.  They are menacing only encased in the pantomime and carnival of Dickens' extravagant language.

But it is deservedly Miss Havisham whose light outside Great Expectations has burned brightest.  She is a true original.  Spurned on her wedding day, she lives for years in that moment, in a festering wedding dress.  And she has raised Estella to be cruel and incapable of love, hoping to punish men in revenge for her own broken heart.  Pip is snared.
Then Estella being gone and we two left alone, she turned to me and said in a whisper:

"Is she beautiful, graceful, well-grown?  Do you admire her?"

"Everybody must who sees her, Miss Havisham."

She drew an arm round my neck, and drew my head close down to hers, as she sat in the chair.  "Love her, love her, love her!  How does she use you?"

Before I could answer (if I could have answered so difficult a question at all), she repeated, "Love her, love her, love her!  If she favours you, love her.  If she wounds you, love her.  If she tears your heart to pieces - and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper - love her, love her, love her!"

Never had I seen such passionate eagerness as was joined to her utterance of these words.  I could feel the muscles of the thin arm round my neck, swell with the vehemence that possessed her.

"Hear me, Pip!  I adopted her to be loved.  I bred her and educated her, to be loved.  I developed her into what she is, that she might be loved.  Love her!"

She said the word often enough, and there could be o doubt that she meant to say it; but if the often repeated word had been hate instead of love - despair - revenge - dire death - it could not have sounded from her lips more than a curse.
As I said earlier, too much happens in Great Expectations to attempt a summary or even an introduction to the plot.  What I really wanted to address is, simply, that Dickens is not dull.  If you've got that impression from television or hearsay, please go and pick up Great Expectations or Our Mutual Friend.  I also find Hard Times hilarious, but I recognise that even amongst Dickens-lovers that is rather rare.  I think he is a brilliant comedian, and genuinely unique - although I have mentioned a few other authors in this post by way of comparison, there is really nobody even close to being like him.  You might hate him.  But if you do end up hating Dickens, please hate the real Dickens, and not television's chocolate-box version of him.

In My Mailbox # 55

In My Mailbox is a weekly bookish meme hosted @ The Story Siren

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Only Us: A Fool's Gold Holiday by Susan Mallery (free from Amazon)
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

What did you get this week? I got a lot of gifts because of Christmas, but curiously, not one of them were books xD

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Just back from the midnight service, and wishing you all a blessed Christmas, wherever you are in the world.

Also, because why not?, a picture of me at Christmas in 1991.

with love - Simon

Happy Holidays!

Finally it's Christmas Eve! It's like 3pm on my country, but I still have to rest a little bit, dress up and finish some dishes for today's dinner with the family so..

Merry Christmas!

Book Review: Wish Upon A Star by Sarah Morgan

Title: Wish Upon A Star
Author: Sarah Morgan
Release Date: October 7th, 2011
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Age: Adult
Love is in the air this Christmas!
Christy was hoping to skip Christmas this year. Her kids have other ideas - they've put their dad's name at number one on their Christmas list. So it looks as if Christy will be hightailing it up to the Lake District to play happy families with her ex!
Snow-capped mountains and roaring log fires - Alessandro's home is like walking into a Christmas card. Is it really safe for her to spend Christmas with her dreamy, funny - no! - entirely infuriating ex-hubby?
Miranda has completely the opposite problem. Being single and pregnant at Christmas was certainly not her wish come true. She doesn't believe in miracles, but then resident hunk Jake sweeps her off her snow-covered shoes. Come Boxing Day dare she dream that Mr Sex-on-Legs might be for more than just Christmas?
Wish Upon a Star is a lovely book that I deeply enjoyed. It has two very cute stories and  I read it in only one day.

The first story is about Christy. She made a mistake, leaving her husband a few months ago to make him notice her, but he was supposed to follow her and make her come back. He didn't and now it's Christmas, and the kids want to spend the holidays with the two of them, together. It's the moment to see if Alessandro, her sexy Spanish husband, still want to be with her or if they are really over.

I really enjoyed this story. Christy is an easy to like woman, and I really liked that she knew her husband's faults but still loved him and accepted him that way. Alessandro was very temperamental and controlling, but he loved Christy and their kids, and he's not going to loose them.

The second story is about Miranda, single and very much pregnant, and Jake, the sexy and lonely doctor. They met and Jake is unable to let her go, but when he discovers she's pregnant, he instantly jumps to the conclusion that she's with someone else. When it's obvious she's on a very difficult situation, he invites her to live with him while trying to make her fall in love.

Jake was very different to the male protagonist of the first story, he's very sweet and understand women. He knows Miranda needs space and understand that she is used to be independent, but slowly gets into her heart.

Both of the stories are sweet and have a couple of hot moments, but always very romantic and of course, with excellent happily ever after endings.

Overall, I loved this book and I recommend it if you're looking for sweet holiday stories. I think the author didn't need to repeat many times that Alessandro was Spanish, or that his temperament / personality was because of that, but still I liked the characters and enjoyed the book.

More about this book at,Goodreads, Amazon, The Book Depository.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Review: Merry Christmas, Baby by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jennifer LaBrecque, Rhonda Nelson

Title: Merry Christmas, Baby
Author: Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jennifer LaBrecque, Rhonda Nelson
Release Date: November 15th 2011
Publisher: Harlequin
Age: Adult
Who will you find under your Christmas tree? 
A cowboy?
Ranch hand Tucker Rankin isn't crazy about the holidays…until a wintry night before Christmas, when Lacey Evans shows him how much fun it is to be nestled all snug in her bed…. 
A wealthy New Yorker?
Stockbroker Jared Martin needs to get away, and Alaska's the perfect place to unwind. Especially once actress Theodora "Teddy" Monroe gets him to loosen his tie—and take it all off! 
Or maybe even a man in uniform?
Soldier Silas Davenport is on Christmas leave. But when he arrives at his parents' home, no one is there…except for the irresistible Delphie Moreau. And she's one gift he won't be exchanging!
Merry Christmas, Baby  is another Christmas anthology. It has three different short stories about couples who find love at the holidays.

First story is "It's Christmas, Cowboy" (linked to Sons of Chance series), about the cowboy Tucker Rankin and Lacey Evans, who met at school and haven't seen each other for years, until an accident unite them and force them to spend a night at Lacey's cabin. Both of them have issues celebrating Christmas, but it's time for them to get over it and enjoy it, specially since they are together and still attracted to each other.

"Northern Fantasy" (linked to LaBrecque's Alaskan Heat series) is settled in Alaska, where New Yorker Jaren Martin needs a break and met Teddy Monroe, a woman who turn him on the exact moment he saw her. This one is definitely the hotest story of the three, their attraction was indomitable, but I think it would have been better if the story would have been longer, since the characters had more to say.

"He'll Be Home for Christmas" (not sure if it's linked to the Men Out of Uniform series) is about Silas, who just got permission to spend the holidays with his family and Delphie, his neighbor and the only who is looking after his parent's house. This story is very sweet, Delphie and Silas fell in love and it wasn't only about physical attraction, and I absolutely loved the ending. I think it was perfect for a short story and very realistic, it was my favorite.

Overall, I think Merry Christmas, Baby is the perfect anthology is you are looking for naughty holidays short stories. And don't worry about the stories being linked to series, you can still read them if you haven't read the previous books.

More about this book at Goodreads, Amazon, The Book Depository.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

YA Story Scavenger Hunt: Question # 46!

Hi everyone!

I'm today's hunt stop for the 2011 YA Story Scavenger Hunt

Follow the hunt every day during the month of December! Answer the daily trivia questions from MG and YA books published during 2011 to be entered into the YA book giveaway :D

Today's question is from Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr.

Question #46: Who is the mortal love of the former and current Dark Kings?

Remember to fill out your answer in the form at Most Important Letter here!

Thanks :P

Top 15 of 2011

I'm going to have a few days' rest from blogging and celebrate Christmas - let's face it, there have been plenty of reviews recently for you to get your teeth into!  But I shan't leave you abandoned, oh no.

I love lists, I really love 'em.   Putting things in order has delighted me ever since Mum used to empty a big tin of buttons on the table for us to sort.  That's why I don't make a top-ten-in-no-order list - I rank my most loved books of 2011 in strict order, even when it is a far from exact science.  It's how much I liked them, how much I admired them, how much I enjoyed reading them (all of which are slightly different) all rolled into one.

Some amazing books have been left out, but it's still a nice mix of male and female authors (7.5 each), various decades, and... well, three non-fiction books in there.  And a lot of funny books too, or at least books with funny elements (numbers 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 6, 5, and 1 would all qualify).  Enough jabbering, over the list - do link to your own list, if you've made one.

A wonderfully surreal, oddly detached, and brilliantly written novel - which I'd recommend to any fans of Muriel Spark or Barbara Comyns.

The best ending I've ever read, and plenty of other good pages before that - an amusing and ultimately heart-breaking view of Edwardian high society.

Further evidence that two lacklustre reads shouldn't put me off trying a third - hilarious, clever, and deservedly a classic.

This wins the year's prize for Book I Thought I'd Hate and Ended Up Loving - Ignatius J. Reilly is utterly obnoxious, but tales of his arrogance and verbose ineptitude made for uproarious reading.

To recycle my line, more Provincial Lady than Headless Lady - and utterly delightful.

The second volume of this extraordinary (and yet somehow ordinary) woman's observant and moving diaries.

The only 2011 book on this list (and one of only three I read this year) this is easily the most moving book I read, but far, far more than a melancholy memoir.

The only novel in translation on the list, this novella is beautiful and a must for any fans of fallible memory narratives.  Better than Atonement.

Such a perceptive, calm take on the infidelity narrative - and one which shows how exceptionally well Young could write about families.

Somehow both cynical and life-affirming - an utterly joyous romp of British-German twins through wartime America.

Comyns never lets me down, and this surreal novel with its utterly matter-of-fact narrator is no exception.  Nobody else could do anything bizarre and brilliant in the same way.

A girl falls in love with the puppets from a puppet theatre?  Sounds enchanting - but Gallico's novella gets pretty dark, and is an ingenious tale which is too fairy-talesque  ever to be too disturbing.

The best novel I've read from the 21st century.  A simple plot of an old minister writing to his young son, Robinson captures a voice in a way which is much more convincing than most autobiographies, let alone novels.  So beautiful, and makes Robinson, from my reading, the greatest prose writer alive.

Only recently reviewed on SiaB, these letters show the best talents of both of these wonderful writers - a collection which I will revisit many times, and the benchmark against which I'll set all future published volumes of letters.

From the first page onwards, Hamilton's writing was so good that it left me actually astonished.  How could an author be this talented?  He is the 1940s missing link between writers as disparate as Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.  A shy woman bullied in a boarding house is an unlikely topic for great literature, but this is one of the best novels I've ever read - and Hamilton one of the most exceptional writers.

Book Review: Dating Mr. December by Phillipa Ashley

Title: Dating Mr. December
Author: Phillipa Ashley
Release Date: August 5th 2010
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Age: Adult
When a nice girl asks twelve men to get naked, it’s sure to cause a scandal…
Emma Tremayne leaves her high-powered PR job and moves to the Lake District looking for peace, quiet—and celibacy. So perhaps it’s not the best idea when, in the spirit of “community-mindedness,” she agrees to help the local mountain rescue team fund raise by putting together a “tasteful” nude calendar. Especially since quite a lot of the community seems to mind what she’s up to—including the tall, dark and handsome Mr. December, Will Tennant, who appears to have gotten the wrong impression about Emma’s intentions. So how does she convince him that he’s more than just the flavor of the month?
I've been meaning to read Dating Mr. December since last Christmas, but it wasn't until now that I finally did it and I'm very glad.

Emma is a nice girl who discovered her boyfriend was cheating on her, with her boss. It wasn't pretty, and Emma just wanted to run. So she moved to Lake District to find a new job and forget all.

She doesn't exactly fit at the town, and when she advises the mountain rescue team to make a nude calendar to raise funds, nobody is very sure about it, specially Will Tennant.

Emma is a easy to like woman. She's very realistic, and although she's absolutely devastated about finding her boyfriend with her boss, she's determined to get her life back on track. And if that means convincing Will Tennant to pose nude for her calendar, she's going to do it.

Of course, their attraction is very obvious but I liked that their romance was slow. Will has a strong personality and it isn't easy to convince him of anything, but it's obvious he likes her. Emma thought he was handsome since the beginning, but both of them have histories that made them difficult to open their hearts.

I really enjoyed Dating Mr. December. It was a quick read, maybe a little bit predictable, but still sweet and very realistic, which I loved/

Overall, Dating Mr. December was a fun and sweet read, that I recommend if you are looking for a fun chick lit read :)

More about this book at www.phillipa-ashley.comGoodreadsAmazonThe Book Depository.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Safety Pins - Christopher Morley

I seem to write my reviews in protracted parts now - there are the bits I can't help typing out and posting as soon as I read them, and then, rolling along months later, comes the actual review proper.  The snippets are probably more enjoyable to read, and certainly speedier to write, but I'll leave that sort of blogging to people like Claire who does it so beautifully.  Me, I like the sound of my own voice.  So not only did I give you Christopher Morley's delightful, wonderful essay 'On Visiting Bookshops' back in July (go and read it now, if you didn't then) but I'll cover the whole collection it came in: Safety Pins (1925).  (I'm pretty sure these essays are collected elsewhere under another name, or scattered through different collections - grab any book of essays with Morley's name on it!)

Morley was best known to me as the author of Parnassus on Wheels, which I love, and its sequel The Haunted Bookshop, which is a curate's egg.  I love little literary or personal essays, and was delighted to find that he had written some - doubly delighted when I discovered that it included bibliophilia of that order.  The rest of the collection is something of a mixed bag - brilliant at its best, and humdrum at its worst.  Actually, that assessment isn't quite fair: I find him fascinating when our interests overlap, and less so when they don't - only the greatest essayists can make a subject compelling which would otherwise be considered dull.  I don't even remember the topics of those that I skimmed through, so let's move on to those I loved?  And when I love Morley's essays, I really love them.

When he writes about books and writing, I am besotted - 'The Perfect Reader' is sweet and sensible; 'On Unanswering Letters' is farcical and yet oh-so-true (how letters are accidentally left unanswered for so long that it is impossible to do so, and no greeting works); he even admits to 'the temptation to try to see what books other people are reading - this innocent curiosity has led me into many rudenesses, for I am short-sighted and have to stare very close to make out the titles.'  But beware the man who falls asleep while reading in a chair:

And here our poor barren clay plays us false, undermining the intellect with many a trick and wile.  "I will sit down for a season in that comfortable chair," the creature says to himself, "and read this sprightly novel.  That will ease my mind and put me in humour for a continuance of lively thinking."  And the end of that man is a steady nasal buzz from the bottom of the chair where has collapsed, an unsightly object and a disgrace to humanity.
Not even Shakespeare is safe from Morley's attentions - in 'On Making Friends', he gives his own views on those tenets laid down in Hamlet:
Polonius, too, is another ancient supposed to be an authority on friendship.  The Polonius family must have been a thoroughly dreary one to live with; we ave often thought that Ophelia would have gone mad anyway, even if there had been no Hamlet.  Laertes preaches to Ophelia; Polonius preaches to Laertes.  Laertes escaped by going abroad, but the girl had to stay at home.  Hamlet saw that pithy old Polonius was a preposterous and orotund ass.  Polonius's doctrine of friendship - "The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel" - was, we trow, necessary in his case.  It would need a hoop of steel to keep them near such a dismal old sawmonger.
You probably sense Morley's tone - and have a good idea whether you'll love him or loathe him.  Some people do have an odd hatred for insouciant humour.  Morley's essays are like A.A. Milne's or Stephen Leacock's or anybody who deals in slightly over-the-top whimsy - but rooted in a love of ideas and a passion for literature.  Morley becomes earnest, when on the track of his hero R.L. Stevenson, but is equally adept at cod-earnestness - for example, in the title essay, in praise of 'Safety Pins':
The pin has never been done justice in the world of poetry.  As one might say, the pin has no Pindar.  Of course there is the old saw about see a pin and pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck.  This couplet, barbarous as it is in its false rhyme, points (as Mother Goose generally does) to a profound truth.  When you see a pin, you must pick it up.  In other words, it is on the floor, where pins generally are.  Their instinctive affinity for terra firma makes one wonder why they, rather than the apple, did not suggest the law of gravitation to some one long before Newton.
Well, quite.  I keep using the word 'delightful', but it is the perfect word for Safety Pins.  If he is not entirely consistent, at least that is better than being consistently dull.  There is plenty here for the bibliophile, and plenty more for those who like to laugh at the little things in life.  I love it - I think a lot of you will too.

Other things to get Stuck into:

Once a Week by A.A. Milne - every now and then I eulogise about AAM, and hope that one or two of you will try him and love him.  The review I link to is really more about Punch, but hopefully you'll be inspired to try Milne's whimsical, clever essays.

Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock - the great Canadian humorist deserves a better post than I gave him, but you can at least read one of his pieces there.  His sketches and essays brim over with humour, and he was wonderfully prolific too.

Any other humourous essayists you think I would enjoy?