Wednesday 20 December 2017

My Life in Books 2017

I saw this on Margaret at Booksplease's blog, but I think she saw it elsewhere too. Regardless, you answer the questions with titles from the books you've read this year.

In high school I was: Flirting with French - William Alexander

People might be surprised: (by) Extraordinary People - Peter May

I will never be: The Critic - Peter May

My fantasy job is: (at) The Haunted Library - edited by Tanya Kirk

At the end of a long day I need: The 12.30 from Croydon - Freeman Wills Crofts

I hate it when: (I) Sleep No More - P.D. James

Wish I had: The Little French Guesthouse - Helen Pollard

My family reunions are: Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor

At a party you’d find me with: The Woman in Blue - Elly Griffiths

I’ve never been to: Confession - Martin O'Brien

A happy day includes: Dear Susan - Ben Hartley

Motto I live by: A Life in Questions - Jeremy Paxman

On my bucket list is: The Caves of Perigord - Martin Walker

In my next life, I want to have: A Year in Provence - Peter Mayle

Come on... do this... you know you want to!


Sunday 17 December 2017

The European Reading challenge 2018

My second and final reading challenge for 2018 will be The European Reading challenge 2018 hosted by Rose City Reader.

THE GIST: The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour. (See note about the UK, below)

WHAT COUNTS AS "EUROPE"?: We stick with the same list of 50 sovereign states that fall (at least partially) within the geographic territory of the continent of Europe and/or enjoy membership in international European organizations such as the Council of Europe. This list includes the obvious (the UK, France, Germany, and Italy), the really huge Russia, the tiny Vatican City, and the mixed bag of Baltic, Balkan, and former Soviet states.

THE LIST: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

NOTE: Even after Brexit, the United Kingdom is still one country, in Europe, that includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. So one book from any one of these four counts as your one book for the United Kingdom. I'm not going to be a stickler about it because challenges should be about fun not about rules. However, when it comes to winning the Jet Setter prize, only one book from one of the UK countries will count.


FIVE STAR (DELUXE ENTOURAGE): Read at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries.

FOUR STAR (HONEYMOONER): Read four qualifying books.

THREE STAR (BUSINESS TRAVELER): Read three qualifying books.

TWO STAR (ADVENTURER): Read two qualifying books.

ONE STAR (PENSIONE WEEKENDER): Read just one qualifying book.


The participant who reads and reviews the greatest number of qualifying books (more than five) will get a $25 gift card to Powell's Books (can be used in store or on line). Participants living in Europe will get a $25-equivalent gift card to the Amazon store in your country, if possible. If you live in a country where neither Powell's nor Amazon will work, then sorry, you are out of luck.

Each book must be by a different author and set in a different country. This means that only one book from one of the four UK countries will count. Only books reviewed count towards the prize

Read all books between January 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019. I like having 13 months so there is extra time to finish after the holidays. However, if you participated in the 2017 European Reading Challenge, you can only count books read in January 2018 for one year -- either the end of the 2017 challenge or the start of the 2018 challenge -- you don't get to count one book for both challenges.

More info about rules and so forth to be found on the Sign-up page.


I'll be going for:

FIVE STAR (DELUXE ENTOURAGE): Read at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries.

I already have a load of books set in France to start me off, and Italy, it'll be difficult to choose just one but I'm sure I'm up to it. But I would also like to try and read something from more unusual countries, just depends what I can find.


Tuesday 12 December 2017

What's In A Name 2018 challenge

I thought maybe I'd not do any reading challenges in 2018. And then... as shiny new ones for next year appeared on my blogging reading list... I thought again. In fact I haven't done What's in a Name? for at least four years so I thought I'd give it go next year and see how it goes.

The Challenge is being hosted by The Worm Hole and the sign-up post is HERE.

The basics

The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories.

The word ‘the’ used twice. (I have The Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett.)

A fruit or vegetable. (I have The Olive Tree by Carol Drinkwater).)

A shape. (I have The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude)

A Title that begins with Z (an be after ‘The’ or ‘A’). (I have nothing but I haven't had a proper look yet.) Suggested title, The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon.

A nationality. (I have The French Riviera by Ted Jones.)

A season. (I have One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson.)

As usual I’ve tried to include some easy categories and some not so. Remember the titles I’ve given here are only examples, you can by all means use them if you want to but it’s not necessary. There are plenty of other books that will fit the categories and you may have some in mind already or even some on your shelves you can read.

Extra information

Books can be any format (print, audio, ebook). It’s preferred that the books don’t overlap with other challenges, but not a requirement at all.

Books cannot overlap categories (for instance my example of The Square Root Of Summer could be used for ‘a shape’ or ‘a season’ but not both).

Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

You don’t have to make your list of books beforehand, you can choose them as you go.

You don’t have to read your chosen books in any particular order.


The books I've chosen may change... plus I don't have one for the Z anyway. *But* I think it would be a useful thing to read those five books and get them off my tbr pile so I'll do my level best to read some of them.


Friday 1 December 2017

Books read in November

I honestly thought November had been a very slow reading month, and I'm sure it actually was. But it still seems that I managed to read six books, which is really odd... Never mind, these are the books:

59. The Road to Tholonet by Monty Don. To be reviewed but this was a lovely book with the Gardener's World presenter touring famous French gardens, but also talking about his life and what France means to him. Delightful.

60. Sleep No More by P.D. James. Murder mystery short stories. Excellent anthology.

61. Printer's Devil Court by Susan Hill. One of the author's famous ghost story novellas. This one about a group of doctors in (I think) Victorian times who try to raise people from the dead. Quite atmospheric and nicely written.

62. The Distant Echo by Val McDermid. The lives of four students are ruined when they stumble over the dead body of a girl back in the 1970s. Cold-case story. Very good.

63. The Wave in the Mind by Ursula K. le Guin. Non-fiction book of essays on writing and reading. Slightly underwhelmed by this. A few of the essays I enjoyed but many rambled on too much and I lost interest. One for the charity shop box.

64. Dear Susan: Letters to a Niece by Ben Hartley. Another non-fiction, this time by an artist who moved from The Peak District down to Devon to teach art in Plymouth. Ben Hartley went to live in a rural village and wrote letters to his niece that were illustrated with beautiful little drawings and full of interesting anecdotes. A totally charming view of life in a Devon village in the 1960s.

So, six books is not bad. Truthfully, the first book was half finished I think before November started, and three of them were quite short books. So the six is not as impressive as it sounds! A favourite? Well, I liked Sleep No More by P.D. James and The Distant Echo by Val McDermid equally, very different books but both excellent. The non-fiction French gardens book, The Road to Tholonet by Monty Don, was also delightful. So, for once I don't think I'll pick an outright favourite.

To be honest I'm not in much of a reading mood at all at the moment. Here's what I am in the mood for:

Very large jigsaw puzzles. This one was 3,000 pieces, and a real pleasure to do, mentally challenging, which I find I need sometimes.

So, here we are back in December again. I've no idea where these years go and am finding the speed that they fly by quite scary. Before we know it Christmas will be over, 2018 will here and another year will zoom by. Like I said, 'Scary'.