Whimsical Reading – Family Relationships

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As I mentioned when I was talking about my aims and intentions for 2014, this year I’ll be continuing with my whimsical reading challenge, if you need a refresher of the rules, check out this page.  Today I thought I’d share some suggestions for the ‘Family Relationship’ category; there are tons you could pick, but here are a few I would recommend:

Mama Rose’s Turn by Carolyn Quinn

This fabulously written biography tells the story of Rose Thompson, the infamous stage mother of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee and actress June Havoc. Rather than mulling over the already well publicized lives of her daughters, Quinn looks into the wild and controversial life of the woman who shaped their destiny.

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

Most people say their favourite Dickens novel is Great Expectations, but this is mine. I’d never been that interested in reading his work before I was given this as a set text, but I have definitely been converted! Check out my review (link above) for more ramblings.

Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler

Feiler’s memoir documents his battle with an aggressive form of cancer, and the way he chooses to deal with it – by putting together a group of men to help raise his twin daughters after his death. I know I’m making it sound quite morbid, but it’s more of a celebration of all the men that have influenced his life.

The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

This was one of my favourite books read in 2013. I first decided to read it when I start the Richard and Judy Summer Book Club challenge, and I’m so glad I did – I absolutely loved it. The story starts as Katie finds out that her sister has died while travelling of what appears to be a suicide. Overtaken by grief, she uproots her life and follows in Mia’s footsteps, with only her journal as a companion. It’s indescribably well written, hugely emotive so unbelievably worth reading.

Granny is my Wingman by Kayli Stollak

Granny is my Wingman is based on the blog of the same name, and tells the story of Kayli and her Grandmother’s experimentations with online dating. It’s a fun light-hearted read.

Mother’s Curse by Thaddeus Nowak

This is the first instalment in a fantasy series by Thaddeus Nowak, which follows the quest of Stephenie, a princess with a curse, attempting to flee her evil mother and find her brother. Throw in a lost city, a ghostly love story and a few big betrayals and you have a recipe for fantastical excellence. Enjoy!

There really are soo many you could pick for this category… what would you go for?

D x

 

Semi-Charmed Autumn Book Challenge

 

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be taking part in Megan from Semi-Charmed Kind of Life’s Autumn reading challenge. I’ve been in a bit of a reading lull ever since I moved (partly because I’ve lost my Kindle and partly because my bus journeys are way shorter so I have much less reading time!), so I need something to give me a bit of a push.

I really wanted to take part in her Summer reading challenge, but I didn’t find out about it until quite late on, so I wouldn’t have had time to complete it… but this time there are no excuses!

So without further ado… the rules!

  • The challenge will run from October 1, 2013, to December 31, 2013.
  • Up to three of your book choices can be rereads, but no more than that!
  • All books much be 200 pages long.
  • Each book can only be counted in one category.
  • Each book you read is worth a certain amount of points, with 200 as the highest possible total. The first five people who finish the challenge will win a featured/guest post on Semi-Charmed Kind of Life and be invited to contribute a category for the winter challenge. Good luck!

And these are the categories:

5 pts: Read a book that does not have “the,” “a” or “an” in the title.
10 pts: Read a book that has been featured in Oprah’s Book Club. This list includes all the books up until 2010. (Submitted by SCSBC13 winner Erin.)
10 pts: Read a book that takes place in the state where you currently live. If you do not live in the U.S., read a book that takes place in the country where you live. (Submitted by SCSBC13 winner Megan.)
15 pts: Read an epistolary novel, which is a book written in letters, emails, diary entries or other documents.
15 pts: Read a book first published in 2013.
15 pts: Read a book with something spooky in the title. (Submitted by SCSBC13 winner Bev.)
20 pts: Read a book with “air,” “water,” “earth” or “fire” in the title. (Submitted by SCSBC13 winnerGypsi.)
20 pts: Read a book on which a television series has been based.
25 pts: Read a fiction book that has someone’s first and last name in the title.
30 pts: Read two books by the same author. They can be in the same series, but do not have to be. Co-authors do not count.
35 pts: Read a fiction and nonfiction book about the same topic.

Megan will also be publishing monthly ‘check in’ posts, so make sure to follow her! So, anyone interested in playing along? Even if you’re not, feel free to help me come up with some ideas!

D x

P.S. I’ll be posting a preliminary reading list next week so stay tuned!

Whimsical Reading – Geological Formation

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I have a confession to make… over the past few months I’ve been neglecting my whimsical reading challenge. Good job there’s no time limit, eh? To celebrate my renewed efforts I’ve made a button (above), so if you’re playing along feel free to grab it!

Today I wanted to share a few more whimsical reading suggestions, this time for the category of ‘geological formation’. If you’ve already picked your book for this category, or just have an idea that would work, leave me a comment below… but here are mine:

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

I’ve got almost a full set of Alexandre Dumas novels sitting between my shelf and my Kindle library and I’ve never read a single one! I’ve adored all of the film adaptations though, so I’ve promised myself I’ll start reading them soon.

Island beneath the Sea – Isabel Allende

This is probably my favourite of all the books I’ve read this year, and by a new-to-me author too… I’m now in the throes of collecting all her other books!

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Grace Lin

Another book on my ‘to be read’ pile, described on GoodReads as ‘fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore’ it sounds like a nice light-hearted treat.

Island of the Sequined Love Nun – Christopher Moore

The premise of this book is utterly ridiculous but so much fun, if nothing else it has the best title ever!

Remember to leave me a link to any whimsical reading challenge posts and I’ll come check them out!

D x

Whimsical Reading – Birds

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We haven’t talked about it in a while, but I’m still plodding away at the whimsical reading challenge (for more info, click on the tab above)… and today I thought I’d share a few more reading suggestions with you, this time on the theme of ‘birds’.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is one of those ‘must reads’ I’ve had on my shelf for a good long while… and my bestest friend in the whole wide world is always raving about it, so it’s inevitable I’ll get there one day!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Number#5 in the Harry Potter series seems to get a bit of a slating… but I love it! It’s not my favourite (that honour goes to the Prisoner of Azkaban) but it is far, far superior to the last two… call me crazy but they were just disappointing!

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James

I’ve wanted to read this for years, ever since I saw the film adaptation starring Helena Bonham Carter (who I’ve always adored), I don’t really know why I haven’t got to it yet… especially considering I have a copy on my shelf and on my Kindle. I read another James novel this year, and I found it equally fabulous and frustrating, for my review of Portrait of a Lady click here.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

This is the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy. I rarely fall in love with book that gets loads of hype, but I just had to make an exception here!

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

Every single charity shop I’ve walked into seems to have a copy on the shelves… and every single time I see it I think ‘hmm, I’d like to read that…’ – I love history, and Chinese history is something I really haven’t read a lot about… I just haven’t got to this one yet. Sometimes I think there aren’t enough years ahead of me to fit in all the books I’d like to read.

So have you picked your ‘bird’ book yet? Any recommendations?

D x

On Relaxation

The theme for today’s ‘Blog Every Day in May‘ post is Pampering. What is your ideal way to pamper yourself and relax? I don’t really do the whole ‘pamper’ thing. I don’t own a bath. All my candles belong on a cake. Most of my cosmetics have sealed themselves shut. But that’s not to say I don’t indulge myself, because I do. In just under four weeks (following my final exam), my season of self-indulgence will commence.

My self-indulgence takes a number of forms:

TV – I like to spend the summer catching up on entire seasons of the TV shows I love. I tend to avoid watching things on a week-by-week basis, I’m not patient enough for cliffhangers. This summer I have the latest seasons of Revenge, Game of Thrones, Vampire Diaries and Bones  to entertain me.

Arty Stuff – See this post for more information on the classes I’m taking this year.

Leisurely Reading – As an English student, a lot of my term-time reading can be pretty heavy. It’s not that I don’t love Classic literature, because I do, but you can’t really kick back and relax to Les Mis can you? I came across a ‘reading for fun’ challenge yesterday on Books, Biscuits and Tea that I’m going to have to take part in…. the idea is to work your way through all of the books on the Richard and Judy Summer Book Club list:

Tigers in Red Weather – Liza Klaussmann

The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker

Close My Eyes – Sophie McKenzie

This is How It Ends – Kathleen MacMahon

Natural Causes – James Oswald

The Light Between Oceans – M. L. Stedman

The Sea Change – Joanna Rossiter

The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky – Simon Mawer

The Sea Sisters – Lucy Clarke

[Click on the links to read the Amazon blurb/reviews]

The good thing about this challenge is that I would never have picked any of these books myself, so hopefully I should be introduced to something new that I’ll really love (as they all sound pretty good). To sign up for the challenge, visit this page.

So tell me some of the ways you like to relax.

D x

Whimsical Reading – Countries

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Today is the tenth day of Rosalilium’s BEDM challenge and the theme is travel dreams. If you remember, one of the topics of the reading challenge I’m hosting this year is books with a country in the title, so today I decided to share a few reading suggestions that feature countries I dream of travelling to:

Arabesque: a Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon by Claudia Roden.

This is one of the cookery books I’ve downloaded onto my kindle and I can’t wait to have the time to experiment with some of the recipes! I’ve never been to Morocco, Turkey or Lebanon but I adore the food from all three; I spent the night of eighteenth birthday stuffing my face at a teensy Lebanese restaurant in Norwich. Sooo yummy!

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

TO READ. Another kindle purchase of mine. I’m in love with idea of travelling across America so what could be better than a book about travelling across America PLUS the author comes with Grandma’s stamp of approval.

My Life in France by Julia Child

TO READ. There’s something innately glamorous about France. I’ve been a couple of times and I’d love to go again soon. This book tells the story of the timeless Julia Child’s love affair with all things French, a must for anyone who adored Julie and Julia.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

Another three countries I’d love to explore someday. Apparently I went to Italy when I was three, but the only thing I remember is my mum trying to make me a cup of tea out of Typhoo tea granules. Ick. To see my review of Eat, Pray, Love click here.

5. Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa

TO READ. I want to read this both because it sounds good and because it has a gorgeous cover. In a nutshell it’s the coming of age story of a half Polish, half Cuban teenager living in America. Also, I’ve been dreaming of visiting Cuba for years… very possibly because it’s such a good Bond location!

6. The Bolter: Edwardian Heartbreak and High Society Scandal in Kenya by Frances Osborne

TO READ. The true story of Idina Sackville, written by her great granddaughter, it has all the ingredients of greatness; the 1920’s, decadence, Africa and scandal. Can’t wait to sink my teeth in!

So, have you come up with any other books with a country in the title? Don’t forget to leave me a link if you decide to take part in my little reading challenge!

D x

Whimsical Reading – Precious Stone

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Today I’m sharing a few more reading suggestions for the whimsical reading challenge, this time on the topic of ‘precious stone’:

1. The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

TO BE READ. One thing that I absolutely adore is a good period drama, and so I watched the film based on this book as soon as it came out. Despite the slightly not-nice characters, it had a really enjoyable story, so I acquired the book. It’s still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, but I’ll get there one day!

2 . The Jewel Box by Anna Davis

To read my review of this book, click on the link above.

3. Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming

TO BE READ. Watching old James Bond movies is a secret guilty pleasure of mine… I love to curl up in the middle of winter with a giant packet of crisps and a bit of Sean Connery on the screen… and I have almost a full set of Bond novels (I think they may have come from my Grandma) but I’ve never read a single one. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really read a single spy novel that wasn’t by Anthony Horowitz.

4. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

This is the third in the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, and I would definitely recommend giving these a whirl. I didn’t actually read them in book form, I was given the audio books, but as far as I’m concerned it still counts. I loved them so much I think I listened to the CD’s continuously for about three months!

5. The Emerald City of Oz by Frank L. Baum

TO BE READ. Number six in the ‘Oz’ series, and again I have to admit that I’ve never read a single one! HOWEVER I have downloaded the whole lot onto my Kindle, and as I’ve wanted to read them for such a long time, I feel that they’ll become ‘bus books’ before too long.

Now, I’m off to make a cup of tea and crack open the custard creams, but if you can think of any more books with a precious stone in the title, leave me a comment below!

D x

TO BE READ.

Readarama

I’ve just stumbled across a reading challenge that I really like the sound of, and it’s called Readarama. Hosted by Penguin Books,  the idea is to read one book per week for the whole of 2013. This slots nicely into my self-imposed reading target of 50 books, but I think the one book per week rule will pose more of a challenge. Mostly because I read in fits. I will have a month where I burn through 10 books and then three where I don’t even finish 1. So to keep reading consistently throughout the year will definitely push me. Having said that, I’m up for the challenge!

Obviously I can’t change my reading record for the first three months of 2013, but here’s what I have managed to read over the past fourteen weeks:

w/c 31st Dec

Dead until Dark – Charlaine Harris

w/c 7th Jan

Germinal – Emile Zola

w/c 14th Jan

Reality Sandwiches – Allen Ginsberg

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud – Ben Sherwood

w/c 21st Jan

The Sculptor – Gregory Funaro

Mirror, Mirror – Gregory Maguire

w/c 28th Jan

Teaching the Pig to Dance – Fred Thompson

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving

w/c 4th Feb

A Walk to Remember – Nicholas Sparks

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

w/c 11th Feb

(I spent the week working through The Woman in White, it’s not a quick read!)

w/c 18th Feb

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

w/c 25th Feb

March – Geraldine Brooks

w/c 4th Mar

Island Beneath the Sea – Isabel Allende

Safe Haven – Nicholas Sparks

The Draining Lake – Arnaldur Indridason

The Jewel Box – Anna Davis

w/c 11th Mar

Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

Pretty Little Liars – Sara Shepard

Escape – Carolyn Jessop

w/c 18th Mar

Don’t Be That Guy: A Collection of 60 Annoying Guys We All Know and Wish We Didn’t – Colin Nissan/Sean Farrell

w/c 25th Mar

Dracula – Bram Stoker

w/c 1st Apr

(Had a break from words following Dracula, before leisurely starting something whimsical and fun: Island of the Sequined Love Nun)

w/c 8th Apr

Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore

Looking back, I seem to have pretty much been sticking to the Readarama rules anyway… there have been two weeks this year where I haven’t finished a book, but I’ve still been reading one (so surely I can’t be penalised…) For more information on the Readarama reading challenge, or to join in, check out this post. If one book a week sounds like too much to handle, why not join in with my whimsical reading challenge?

Happy reading! I’m off to go get lost in a book…

D x

P.S. I’ve linked up the book titles I’ve already reviewed, and I hope to share a few more book reviews over the next few weeks. However, it’s unlikely that I will review everything I read, partly because I read so much, and partly because if I can summarise my opinion on a book in two lines, it’s not worth me devoting a post to it!

Whimsical Reading – Feelings

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My reading frenzy seems to have halted slightly- I’ve only finished one book in the past week or so (what’s that about?!).

Here are a few more reading suggestions I’ve come up with for the ‘feeling’ category of the whimsical reading challenge:

1. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Check out my review by clicking the link above.

2. Your Sad Eyes and Unforgettable Mouth by Edeet Ravel

TO BE READ. This book revolves around the friendship cultivated between two girls who are children of Holocaust survivors. My intuition is telling me not to expect rainbows and kittens with this one, but hopefully the writing itself will make up for this.

3. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

I know this is somewhat of a ‘classic’ but I really did find it quite underwhelming. I’d recommend the Tim Burton flick in an instant, but that may be because it’s a completely different story.

4. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

TO BE READ. Why do I want to read this, I hear you ask? Because it sounds like epic literature, or because the movie trailer features a really great Fleetwood Mac cover? I’ll leave that to your powers of deduction.

5. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan

(Translated: Hello Sadness). This is so teeny that I suggest (and by suggest I mean demand) you fit it into your life at some point. It’s melancholic, it’s decadent, it’s French and it’s morally ambiguous… in other words, a Gatsbyan treat!

Have you come up with any ideas for books with a ‘feeling’ in the title? Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments below! If you feel like joining in with my little reading challenge, send me a message (in a comment or email, whichever you prefer) and I’ll hop over and follow you.

D x

Whimsical Reading – Space

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Today I’m going to share a few more suggestions for my whimsical reading challenge, this time for the ‘something from space’ category:

1. Stars Rain Down by Chris J. Randolph

TO BE READ. This is a futuristic sci-fi, not the genre I usually go for but this was a gift, so I added it to the ever-increasing ‘to be read’ pile… not sure how long it’ll take me to get to it though!

2. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

Second book of the Twilight Saga. I’m very much torn about Twilight. For starters, I think the films are shockingly bad and that the books are much better. When I first read them I knew nothing of the story, and I did really enjoy them. They’re not highbrow literature but that’s not always what I look for in a book anyway… and I love a bit of something vampirey!

3. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

TO BE READ. Many people have recommended this to me but after watching the last half of the film I don’t really think it’s for me… apparently it’s funny though.

4. Seeing Stars by Diane Hammond

TO BE READ. This book tells the story of a number of child actors and their Hollywood parents. I’m expecting this book to expose me to some not-so-delightful things but at the same time it sounds quite interesting… I think this is the one I’ll be reading for the challenge.

5. Shampoo Planet by Douglas Coupland

TO BE READ. The story of an ambitious 1990’s youth raised in a hippy commune. It sounds like a novel of quirky characters (my favourite kind), so I’m looking forward to reading it.