The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton

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The Burglar Caught by the Skeleton, by Jeremy Clay, is the first book I read as part of Non Fic November. When I first picked it out I expected a book filled with lively retellings of a few bizarre stories from Victorian newspapers, but that’s not really what I came away with.

Pretty much all the stories were quite sensational, but I still got quite bored. This was a very long book, filled with lots and lots of pretty similar articles, divided into sections (Animals, Love, Marriage and Family, Eating and Drinking, Health and Medicine, Coincidence and Luck, Sport, Hobbies and Pastimes, Inventions, Life and Death, Superstition, Belief and Supernatural, Crime and Punishment, Wagers, Accidents and Disasters, Fashion and Clothes, Arts and Entertainment). I would have preferred him to include less stories, and expand on them himself. Is it bad that my favourite parts of the book were Clay’s chapter introductions? He’s funny, and charming, and has the kind of voice that makes you want to keep reading… however, he had this habit of describing a story in quite a lot of detail and then putting that same story in the section… it seemed like slightly unnecessary repetition. I just wish he’d have included more of his own writing in the book!

I quite enjoyed the glaringly obvious creative liberties taken by the journalists of yore (which were so extensive I’m not sure this book should count as non-fiction), and the sheer volume of articles entitled ‘a remarkable incident’, but I found it quite a dry read. When I was younger (well, ever since first reading Jane Eyre really) I used to dream about living during Victorian times… but after reading about all the escaped lions, and poison, and death by coffin, and dodgy medicine, I’m just not so sure!

I wouldn’t recommend reading it as a you would a novel – it just doesn’t have the best ‘flow’ (and it took me FOREVER to get through!). However, I would say this is a great book to dip into if you’re looking for a bit of writing inspiration… it’s definitely a great source of interesting plot lines!

D x

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An Autumn Update

Heyyy,

I’ve been pretty busy with lots of bits and pieces, so I thought write a quick post to give you an update on current and future projects (and I promise this is not just a ‘loads of excuses for not blogging’ kind of post. Cross my heart.)

  • Last night my new kitty arrived! Meet [name to be confirmed]. If you have any interesting name suggestions please leave them in the comments below, I’m stumped! I’ll post some photos of her when she comes out of hiding (she seems to be terrified of me at the moment!)
  • I’ve been getting stuck into the Semi-Charmed Kind of Life Autumn Book Challenge… I’ve just finished reading The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, I haven’t really decided which of these is going to come next though…
  • I’m looking forward to two gigs this weekend: Bowling for Soup and Blue. I am just so excited I can’t even describe it! Luckily I’ve managed to get the day off on Monday, sadly I’m feeling far too old to do two nights in a row and then be up at 6am!
  • I’ve been lagging behind a bit with my Life Book pages, but I have been enjoying Alisa Burke’s latest class ‘Layers of Love’. For more information on her schedule of fabulous Autumn classes check out her blog.
  • I’ve been getting to know the people in my L140 (Intermediate Spanish) and A363 (Advanced Creative Writing) classes – there seem to be a lot of unusual characters which is always fun! I love the ‘start of a new year’ feeling that hovers in the air around this time of year… I’ll be posting more about my new modules next week, so stay tuned!
  • Last Thursday I joined Slimming World, it’s definitely been a challenge learning how to cook in a new way – I’m definitely an ‘if in doubt, add more butter’ kind of girl at heart. It’s my first weigh-in tonight so wish me luck!
  • I’m getting ready for my last ever Quirky Crafts challenge as part of the Design Team. I’ve had a lot of fun working with the girls, but I really need to buckle down and focus on my last year of University for now.
  • And finally… I’m still recruiting bloggers for my November blog event ‘Non Fic November’ during which we will be celebrating all things non-fiction. Check out this post if you fancy signing up 🙂

See you soon!

D x

A Preliminary Reading List

Do you remember last week I posted about the Semi-Charmed Autumn Book Challenge?

Well today I thought I’d share my preliminary reading list for said challenge – these are no way set in stone, but I’ve been thinking about reading some of these for quite a while, so why not now?

– Read a book that does not have “the,” “a” or “an” in the title.

Golden Earrings by Belinda Alexandra

– Read a book that has been featured in Oprah’s Book Club.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

– 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. 

The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton by Jeremy Clay

– Read an epistolary novel, which is a book written in letters, emails, diary entries or other documents.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

– Read a book first published in 2013.

The Returned by Jason Mott

– Read a book with something spooky in the title. 

The Seance Society by Michael Nethercott

– Read a book with “air,” “water,” “earth” or “fire” in the title.

The Bone Fire: A Mystery by Christine Barber

 Read a book on which a television series has been based.

Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs (part of the series that inspired the AWESOME TV show Bones)

– Read a fiction book that has someone’s first and last name in the title.

The Marx Sisters: A Kathy Kolla and David Brock Mystery by Barry Maitland

– 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.

The Robber Bride and The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

– Read a fiction and non-fiction book about the same topic.

Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki and The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook by Sereena, Alexa and Priya Kaur (both feature Indian families and an almost obsessive love of food)

So are you going to join in with this fabulousness? If you are, don’t forget to link your introductory posts up here.

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

Readarama Update

Firstly I’d like to say WOW. I’m so humbled and grateful for the kind responses to my slight identity crisis yesterday. I hope you’ll all go and check out Lynn, Janet, Beth and Buffy and leave them some love (and send some good thoughts out for Mog – I don’t have a link to her blog, but she’s one of the fab five who gave me the lift I needed yesterday). They reminded me of the things I love about blogging, and made me realise that people actually enjoy reading the things I write.

I have a few scheduled posts ready to go, but other than those, I’m going to have a little bit of down time and get working on some new things (top-secret at present!), also I’m buying a house this week so I’m kind of busy.

And now back to today’s posts…

A week or so ago I shared an update of my Readarama progress (the Penguin hosted challenge involving reading at least one book per week for the whole of 2013), but I only went up to the end of May… so today I thought I’d bring you up to date.

w/c 3rd June

Tigers in Red Weather – Liza Klaussman

w/c 10th June

Week off with the legitimate excuse of final exams!

w/c 17th June

This is How it Ends – Kathleen MacMahon

The Sea Sisters – Lucy Clarke

The Biscuit Witch – Deborah Smith

w/c 24th June

Close My Eyes – Sophie McKenzie

w/c 1st July

Natural Causes – James Oswald

Becoming Indigo – Tara Thompson

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

w/c 8th July

The Sweetest Hallelujah – Elaine Hussey

w/c 15th July

Lady MacBeth: On the Couch – Alma Bond

Little Joe – Michael E Glassock III

w/c 22nd July

Bones in Her Pocket – Kathy Reichs

w/c 29th July

Cosmo – Spencer Gordon

As I said before, I have many a review pending, just be patient with me!

D x

This is How it Ends

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This is How it Ends by Kathleen MacMahon is another book from the Richard and Judy Summer Book List, and I have to say… I’m pretty torn.

Going by the other reviews I’ve read, this is an uplifting tale of hope, love and second chances. In my opinion this is a book about being kicked in the face by life again and again, until suddenly life picks you up… but only so it can kick you back down even harder. The plot just didn’t float my boat, and set against the backdrop of the recession/Obama election? No thank you. That’s the kind of ‘current events’ that isn’t quite current enough to be relevant, but too current to be enjoyed by me.

However, I thought the characters were all phenomenal. Every single figure was well crafted and clearly well-loved by the author. All were imperfect in their own quirky little ways, and it was so, so easy to get attached to them! They were the force that encouraged me to keep reading. It was the relationships that held my interest, nothing else.

I can’t seem to come to a solid conclusion about this book… I didn’t like it enough to keep talking, but I didn’t hate it enough to rant… so instead you’re stuck with a short, unsatisfying review. I guess that’s just the way it goes sometimes!

D x

[Image borrowed from GoodReads]

 

Tigers in Red Weather

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This is the first book I’ve read from Richard and Judy’s Summer Book Club. For more info, check out this page. If you feel like working your way through these books this summer, you can link up here (just click on the button in her sidebar).

Tigers in Red Weather tells the story of a family filled with secrets. The plot keeps you guessing the whole way through… the clues you’re given are ambiguous enough to offer multiple possible scenarios. In my opinion, one of the markers of great writing is that the reader just can’t stop thinking about the book. This is what this one was like for me. I wasn’t always thinking nice things about it, but I was slightly obsessed nonetheless.

The story is split between numerous points of view, and it jumps through time quite a lot. This had the potential to annoy me a fair bit, but it was pretty seamless. Occasionally frustrating, but seamless.

The first narrator is Nick, and after reading her section I found her pretty repulsive. But actually, as I kept reading, and I got to know her family, I warmed to her. This family has issues.

The characters are all extremely well executed, not necessarily likeable, but expertly crafted. If nothing else, Liza Klaussman is a GENIUS at creating total w$%@!&*s. These are the kind of characters you really wish could step out of a book, just so you can punch them in the face.

If I had to point out one negative, I’d say the ending was a little anticlimactic… and there were a few loose ends I’d like to have seen tied up, but all in all I enjoyed this book. After reading the blurb, I thought I would anyway… but as it turns out, the blurb really doesn’t accurately represent the novel. I was expecting some 1940’s glamour, some heartbreak and scandal, and it wasn’t quite like that.

So R+J Book Clubbers, have you read Tigers in Red Weather yet? What were your thoughts on it?

D x

The BBC Book List Challenge

I came across an annoying fact last night… apparently the BBC believes most people have not read more than six of the following books… I may not be the most well-read person in the world, but I still feel a bit outraged at this! And apparently the average GoodReads user has read twenty-three…

[‘Read’ books in bold]

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (I’ve read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe)
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I’ve read The Sign of Four and Hound of the Baskervilles)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

So yeah… I’ve read thirty-five (because I refuse to count series of seven as single book!), a respectable score I think… Definitely more than six!

So how many have you read? Are you equally outraged that the BBC seems to think we’re all unread fools?

D x

Happy Birthday, Baby

Baby being me! Today is the day I turn 22!

Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of ’25 before 25′ and ’30 before 30′ posts and it strikes me I could do something similar, there are a lot of things I keep thinking about doing, but I just seem to push them to the back of my mind… Some of these things are teeny, and some are absolute whoppers, but I’m giving myself three years from today to get it all done… fingers crossed that’ll be enough time!

I also feel like there should be some sort of incentive… like for everything I don’t manage to do I have to forfeit something? I’m not sure what though… any ideas?

Anyway, here’s that list of mine:

Buy a house

Design a colouring book

Run an online workshop

Make perfect macarons

Travel somewhere outside of Europe

Adopt a dog (or maybe a cat)

Try 10 different kinds of tea

Dye my hair a radical colour

Read 5 Dickens novels

Learn how to use a sewing machine

Host a dinner party

Make a patchwork quilt

Write a book

Customise/upcycle 15 pieces of unloved clothing

See some Shakespeare onstage

Complete an embroidery

Go to a festival

Have a handmade Christmas

Try fondue

Design a deck of tarot cards

Take a life drawing class

Learn the mambo

Do a charity run

Go to a blogger meet-up

Read every book I own

Try 10 new cocktails

Pimp my horrible bedroom furniture

Test out all the workout DVD’s I’ve been hoarding

Spend a day at the spa

Graduate

Visit 5 new British cities

Set up an Etsy store

Go camping

Learn to drive

Cook (and blog about) two recipes from every cook book I own

Celebrate St Patrick’s Day

Get promoted

Eat at 10 new restaurants (not including takeaways)

Do some sort of collaborative blogging project

Work on feeling (and looking) healthier (if this leads to dropping a dress size I won’t complain)

Watch 52 documentaries

Complete a month-long ‘sketch a day’ challenge

So those are the fifty-two things I’ll be trying to do over the next thirty-six months… what do you think? Achievable? If you have any tips or suggestions on how the hell I can get all this done, don’t be shy, leave me a comment!

D x

P.S. I’ll create a new page to help keep track of my progress, so come back to see how I’m doing! If you fancy joining me along the way, then do! I’d love the company!