The Bookish Olympics

So many of my posts recently have been tags of link-ups. Sorry about that! But I saw this tag on Kristen‘s blog and I just couldn’t resist! Kristen got the tag from another Kristen, which somehow amused me, but the whole thing started on It Starts At Midnight (where it was just called The Olympic Book Tag, but I had to steal Kristen’s title along with the tag because it was just perfection!)

Olympics-e1470114539397

I didn’t actually watch a single bit of the Olympics (except a tiny bit of a report on the BBC the day after Mo Farah fell because I wanted to see how bad the fall actually was). In fact, while I’m in confession mode, the only Olympics I’ve ever really watched was London 2012 mainly because it was my Olympics, sort of. Such a hypocrite! Books, on the other hand, I can do any day of the week!

1

In the Woods by Tana French. I actually didn’t even give this book a top rating because I was so mad that the mystery of what happened to the boys in the woods was never actually solved! Stupid blurb giving me the wrong impression of the book! But the writing sucked me in from the first sentence and I really, really enjoyed this book. Still want to know what happened in the woods though!

2

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. I was originally going to use this book for the friendship category (you’ll see later), but it turned out I haven’t really read any road trip books, other than An Abundance of Katherines and that was boring! This one isn’t exactly a road trip book, but it does feature a road trip of sorts. Well, a drive anyway. To Switzerland. It’s the closest I’ve got to a road trip, okay? And it’s a weird but amazing book.

3

I couldn’t think of any good love triangles (can a love triangle be “good”?) so I looked up love triangle on Goodreads and for most of the ones I had read I kept thinking “Wait, where was the love triangle in that?”. Either my memory is really bad or other people have different definitions of love triangles! Anyway, I think I’m going to go with Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Whether the love triangle is good or not, it’s a classic!

5

Possession by A.S. Byatt. I mean, I got the basic story, but I felt like I was missing something and/or not intelligent enough to get the deeper meaning behind this book. Meh.

6

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. Actually, it’s set in several summers. I’ve read this book twice and loved it both times, even though Caitlin is horrible and the book is heartbreaking!

7

I wanted to say all the Harry Potter books for this (loads of bloodshed there!) but that felt like a cop put sooo… The Dragonlance Chronicles by Magaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Actually this is three books but since they’ve been repackaged with the three volumes in one book it counts 😉 These books may not be the best written, but I devoured them (along with many of the spin offs) when I was around 13-14 and I still love them. They’re based on Dungeons and Dragons, which I’ve never played, and aren’t always realistic, but who cares? And since these three books are pretty much entirely about a war between the forces of good and evil you can bet there’s plenty of fighting (including on dragonback!) and bloodshed.

8

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. This is the same one Kristen picked but I totally agree! I read books with twists fairly regularly but this is one of the few where I had no idea what was going to happen. The main big twist was so unexpected!

9

I have to confess that a lot of books make me cry (included the previously mentioned Summer Sisters), but one that had me sobbing most of the way through was P.S., I Love You by Cecelia Ahern. Yes, it’s chick lit, but it’s good chick lit (in my opinion). The film ruined it so don’t bother watching that!

10

The Catcher in the Rye? Haha, joke, that one wasn’t slow to start… I’m still waiting for the story to actually start. Hmm, the only one I can think of right now is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I had to stop for a while because it didn’t seem to be going anywhere, then towards the middle it picked up and the ending was weird (and depressing). It wasn’t a bad book but 100 pages less would have been fine… preferably taken off the beginning!

11

I’m going waaay back now to nursery school age! Each, Peach, Pear, Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I adored that book and can’t wait to share it with my children. (Later I spent my pocket money on Babysitters Club and Point Horror books. I still have them all at my dad’s. Good times!).

12

I’ve read many books that feature animals, but I thought I’d take the equestrian part literally and go with The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans. The ending was kind of weird and ridiculous, which is why my rating was only 4 stars, but for me it was all about the horse anyway. If you can’t stand the idea of animals being hurt this book is not for you! I cried so hard at that part (told you I’m pathetic!).

13

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. To this day I’m not sure why I even bothered to finish it, except that I was stubborn and it was a gift from my grandma so I felt like I had to! I was given it at around 15 and it took me 5 years and three attempts to get more than half way through. I was so, so, so bored by the whole thing! Yes, I know it’s a classic. I don’t care – I hated this book!

14

Beaches by Iris Rainer Dart. It’s both similar to the film and really different. The Hilary character is called Bertie (Roberta) in the book and at times I just wanted to shake her! CeeCee is even more self-centred, if that’s possible, but somehow I liked this book (and their friendship) anyway. Also, in the book Bertie/Hilary has cancer, not whatever it was in the film. Not perfect writing by any means but I like it.

15

Apparently I don’t read any books that feature sport?! Umm… somebody starts taking swimming lessons in Butterfly Summer by Anne-Marie Conway. Maybe that counts? This is a cute book with some truly stunning descriptions of a butterfly garden. The mystery is easy to guess, but I’m much older than the intended audience (which I’d guess to be around age 11) so that’s a little unfair. It’s a quick, cute read anyway.

I’m not going to tag anybody, but if you decide to do this please let me know so I can read your answers (and add to my already insanely long to-read list!)

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Book Challenge by Erin 5.0 Month 1

Yes, two posts in one day… and both are about books. Sorry! If book reviews aren’t your thing go and guess what I’m stitching instead.

So, you may remember that I was taking part in two book challenges in July. I’ve already checked in for month 2 of Megan’s summer reading challenge, now I want to tell you about month 1 of Erin‘s challenge. My preliminary list was here in case you want a reminder of the categories.

I only managed to read two books for this challenge during July, one of which was on my original list. Here’s what I read:

10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “R”.

I accidentally changed the book I planned to read for this category (ahem. Sorry Erin!). What do you mean, “accidentally”? I hear you ask. Welll… after all the heavy/long books I’d read for the summer reading challenge, I felt the need to read something slightly easier. Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell had been waiting patiently on my shelf for over a month so I picked it up, read it, and only realised when I got to the end that the title starts with an R! Since I haven’t got round to tracking down my original choice yet I decided to use this one for the challenge.

This book is beautiful somehow magical – but without actually involving any magic. My only problem with it was the ending, which seemed a bit abrupt. Things were moving along nicely, pace picking up then suddenly I’d reached the last line and it was just… over. I gave it 4 stars for that reason (although it’s really more like 4.5).

15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) blue cover.

ArtemisYou may remember (or have just read) that I was hoping to read Artemis Fowl by Eion Colfer for this category, providing the copy I had ordered actually turned out to have a mostly blue cover. Well, as you can see from the picture, it did.

This book was okay. It was fairly entertaining and a quick read. I think this particular one would appeal mostly to young boys (how many jokes can you make about flatulence?!) but it’s well written and the characters are mostly believable (as much as fantasy creatures can be believable anyway ;-)). I gave it three stars on Goodreads. I probably won’t go out of my way to read the rest of the series, but if book two happened to fall into my hands I would give it a chance.

That makes 25 points, which isn’t much but not bad considering all the reading I was doing for the other challenge. Bring on month 2!

I read (very few of) my books!

Like many readers, I am definitely guilty of buying many, many books that I find going cheap and then not actually getting round to reading most of them before buying more. This problem is currently being exacerbated (yeah… I had to look up the spelling of that!) by the BBC Big Read list. I keep buying books from there without even checking what they’re about then taking one look at the synopsis/length/teeny tiny writing and putting them off for another day. So when Erin announced that she was co-hosting a challenge for people to actually read their books I was all for it!

I already briefly mentioned it here, but today is the day of the official linkup where we let everyone know how we did, so you’ll just have to put up with another post on it 😉

Read My Books (1)

I went into the challenge thinking it would be easy. Like I said, I already own lots of books that I’ve never even opened, so all I had to do was pick them up and read them. I got off to a good start with Amity & Sorrow for the Semi-charmed Summer Reading Challenge – it wasn’t the best book, but it was a fairly quick read. Then I decided to start The Magus… and that was my downfall. I started it on 10th June and only managed to finish it on 5th July! That book draaaagged! Towards the end of the month, I quickly read A Good Talk, which has been on my shelves for so long that I don’t even remember buying it! So that brought my total up to about 2 and a half books. Not a result I can say I’m proud of, but at least I managed to make room on my bookshelves for two new books (I didn’t particularly enjoy either of the books I finished so they’re off to a free bookshelf somewhere to hopefully find someone who does like them).

Since then, I’ve read two books that I technically owned before the challenge since they arrived at the end of May and one that I only bought in June (hey, just because I’d agreed to only read my own books didn’t mean I couldn’t acquire new ones for after the challenge was finished ;-)). If the challenge had been over two months I would have done sooo much better!

Do you read everything you buy straight away or do you end up with many books accumulating on your shelves (or e-reader) like me? And, if the latter, how do you convince yourself to actually read the books you already own instead of buying/borrowing/downloading more?

The Summer Reading Challenge: Month 1

It’s 1st June, which means it’s time to check in for the reading challenge! I’m a bit behind on my reviews, but for those I actually have got round to reviewing, I’ll make the book title a link so those who missed them can read my thoughts, okay? Here’s what I’ve read so far for the challenge:

10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born.
Flowers for Algernon by David Keyes (published 1966) – 311 pages. I absolutely loved this book! The subject matter is fascinating… and I want an Algernon 😉

10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of a library or bookstore.
The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root by Christopher Pennell (Age range: 8-10 or 9-12, depending on where you look) – 215 pages. My review on this isn’t up yet, but it will be soon. I wish this book had been around when I was a child. I would have loved it right around the time I was into the Enchanted Wood books. I still enjoyed it as an adult, but chuld me definitely missed out!

20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s),” or “child(ren)” in the title.
The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers – 307 pages. I wanted to love this book, but in the end it was just okay. It started off well, but once the two girls were grown ups I lost interest. I felt like the author understood children’s emotions and struggles perfectly but then wasn’t really sure what to do with her characters once they became adults. Neither of them ever seemed to move forward or develop in any way (despite one of them getting married and having children!). Disappointing, especially considering I’d had it on my to-read list for years.

20 points: Read a book that will be/was adapted into a film in 2014
The Internet tells me that A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby – 256 pages. This was another one that I wanted to like but just couldn’t. I should have felt sorry for the characters, but most of them just annoyed me. Click the book title for my full review.

30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the title
The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell – 309 pages and Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien – 360 pages (antonyms: Death and Birth). I loved The Death of Bees and wil be looking out for more books by this author. Birthmarked started off brilliantly then became a bit meh, but I liked it enough that I will considerbuying book 2 in the series to find out what happened next. Again, you can click on the book titles for my full reviews.

So that’s 90 points so far. Up to now, I’ve pretty much stuck to the books I’d originally chosen (well, Birthmarked wasn’t on the original list… I chose it because it was the first vaguely interesting book I saw with “birth” in the title). I have 7 categories left to go, one of which is read a book that another blogger has already read for the challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading and hopefully finding something amazing for this category!

You can still join in with the challenge (and even count any books that you’ve read since 1st May retroactively). Click on over to Megan’s blog to find out what to do!

My Life in Books

I saw this over at Land of Candy Canes and couldn’t resist stealing it. So today I am answering a few questions related to books. I’m not going to tag anybody specific, but if anybody would like to join in please do – I would leave to read your answers!

Lovely, lovely books!
Lovely, lovely books!

1. What is the first book you remember reading?

I have a very vague memory of some book with Spot the Dog with flaps to lift, but I’m not sure whether I could actually read at that stage or was just turning pages. The first book I really, truly remember reading all the words in is The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I wish I knew what had happened to that book… I loved it!

2. What books make up your childhood?

Basically any book by Enid Blyton, as well as all Roald Dahl books. I remember reading the Narnia series over and over as well (I was convinced Narnia was real and I just needed to find a way to get there). I also loved the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Clearly – I first started reading those because the author had the same name as me, then I got hooked. Later I was obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club  books and at around the age of 9 or 10 I got started on Point Horror (which is probably what led to my love of Stephen King and James Herbert!). Then there were all the individual books: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (aka the first book that ever made me cry), When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson (I loved this one so much I bought a new copy a few years ago so I could read it again), A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, I Am David by Ann Holm, just to name a few. But even back then you could have placed any book in my hands and I would have devoured it.

3. What’s the first series you devoured?

I’m going to guess the Secret Seven books by Enid Blyton. When we lived in Northern Ireland, I tried to set up my own Secret Seven club! I would have been about six years old then. I was probably reading other Enid Blyton series, including The Famous Five and Mallory Towers, at the same time though, so it’s hard to say which one I got into first.

4. What books have you or could you read over and over again?

If I like a book, I will almost always read it more than once. I have to re-read books because I keep running out and I have neither the space nor the money to be constantly buying new ones! But here are some that I’ve read more times than I can count: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graeme (when I was younger – it’s still in England so it’s been a while since I’ve read it), Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer (it went missing during one of our moves though. I really need to buy that one again because it’s still along my favourite books ever), several of Terry Pratchett’s books including Witches Abroad and Mort, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, The Orchard on Fire by Shena Mackay and Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells, despite the fact that it makes me cry every time!

5. What books take you back to a certain time in your life and why?

All Agatha Christie books remind me of being ten years old. I’d run out of my own books and was bored, so my mum gave me the few Agatha Christie books she had, figuring they were tame enough for me to read. I was so proud of being allowed to read adult books!

6. What book changed your life, or could at least change someone elses?

Not a single book, but a series. I’ve been obsessed with Austria ever since I discovered the Chalet School books by Elinor M. Brent Dyer when I was about ten. They’re about 90% of the reason I lived in Austria for a year after graduation. I’m not exactly sure whether that’s what was meant with the question, but I certainly don’t think I would have lived in Austria if I hadn’t read these books.

7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which would it be?

No, no, no, no, no! I refuse to even contemplate this. One book! That’s like a nightmare scenario to me. *Shudders*

Those of you who are interested can read Katrin’s answers here. And if you decide to join in, please do let me know!

New challenge for the 35 before 35 list

Read all those books from the BBC Big Read Top 200 list of books that I haven’t before.

English: An owl on an open book with a hat
Photo: Wikipedia

I’ve already read:

  1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
  4. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
  5. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  6. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
  7. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  8. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë (and never loathed a book so much in my life!)
  9. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger (didn’t like this one much either)
  10. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

    Wind in the Willows
    Wind in the Willows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  11. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  12. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  13. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
  14. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
  15. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
  16. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  17. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  18. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  19. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  20. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
  21. Dune, Frank Herbert
  22. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
  23. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  24. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  25. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  26. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
  27. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  28. The BFG, Roald Dahl
  29. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
  30. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell (still makes me cry, every time!)
  31. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
  32. Mort, Terry Pratchett
  33. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
  34. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  35. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
  36. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
  37. Matilda, Roald Dahl
  38. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
  39. The Twits, Roald Dahl

    The Twits
    The Twits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  40. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  41. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett (not his best, in my opinion)
  42. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  43. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Sue Townsend
  44. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
  45. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
  46. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
  47. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
  48. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
  49. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
  50. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan (hated it!)
  51. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  52. The Green Mile, Stephen King
  53. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
  54. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
  55. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
  56. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
  57. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
  58. The Witches, Roald Dahl
  59. Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White
  60. Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl
  61. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery (read in German, but since the original is actually French it still counts!)
  62. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
  63. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine (this is actually a series, but I’ve read at least 10 Goosebumps books so will let it count!)
  64. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
  65. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
  66. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
  67. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  68. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews

So, 68 down. Only another 132 to go. Should be doable in 5 years!
Next one to read is Pride and Prejudice (number 2 on the Big Read list) because I already have the book.