Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Summer Book Challenge 2016 preliminary list

It’s summer reading challenge time again! Well, nearly. I can’t start reading my books yet, but the categories have been released so I can decide what I’m going to read. This time, the number of pages has been cut down from 200 to 150, which is nice. Although I plan to use the challenge to try and make some progress with the BBC Big Read and most of the books on there are loooong!

As usual, we start with the rules:

General rules:

  • The challenge will run from June 1, 2016, to August 31, 2016. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on June 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on August 31 will count.
  • Each book must be at least 150 pages long. Audiobooks and large-print books are fine, as long as the regular print version meets the length requirement.
  • A book can only be used for one category, and each category can only be completed once.
  • The highest possible total is 200 points, and the first five people who finish the challenge will be invited to contribute a category for the winter 2016 challenge.

Okay, formalities out of the way. Now for the most exciting part. Categories!

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long. Like I said, BBC Big Read, so I’m thinking I’ll go with The Color Purple by Alice Walker

10 points: Read a collection of short stories or essays. They may all be written by the same author, or the book may be an anthology from different writers; your choice! Maybe Different Seasons by Stephen King since it’s been sitting on my shelf for a while. Provided novellas count as short stories, that is. It’s a collection anyway.

10 points: Read an adult fiction book written by an author who normally writes books for children. Examples: J. K. Rowling, Judy Blume, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, etc. – Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Kelly E. Umm, maybe something by Judy Blume? I have nothing on my shelves so whatever I choose will have to be purchased. TBC.

15 points: Read a book set in Appalachia. – Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Ericka B. (Try this list or this one for inspiration. And here’s a map if you have a book in mind and want to know if it fits the setting.) No idea! I’ll have to check those lists and see if anything looks interesting. TBC.

15 points: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Read a book with a cover you personally find unappealing. I will need to look at some covers for this, but I’m hoping I can make it a Big Read book. TBC.

20 points: Read a book that you have previously only seen the film (movie) of. – Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Bevchen. Hey look, my category! Usually I read the book first, but I’ve definitely seen a few films and only realised later that they were based on books. I have two options for this: High Fidelity by Nick Hornby or Papillon by Henri Charrière.

25 points: Read a book with a punny title. The title can be a play on another book title, movie title or a common expression. Examples of such titles include Southern Discomfort, We’ll Always Have Parrots or Bonefire of the Vanities. – Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Jamie G. I will let you know when I find something:-) TBC.

30 points: Read a microhistory. (Try this list or this one for ideas.) I had no idea what a microhistory was, but having looked at that list it seems I already own some! I have yet to read The Potato by Larry Zuckerman or Swindled by Bee Wilson so I’ll probably make it one of those.

30 points: Read one book with a good word in the title, and one with a bad word. Note: This category is reeeeeeeally open-ended! Maybe you like turtles, so The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a title with a “good” word. Similarly, the “bad” word could be a swear word or a literally negative word like “not” or “none,” or it could just be something you don’t like. Have fun with it! (Remember, you must read both books to get 30 points; this category is not worth 15 points per book.) I’m thinking I might go reeaally literal with this one and make my bad wrd something like “war” and my good word “happiness” or similar. I haven’t picked specific books yet, though. TBC.

40 points: Read two books that contain the same word in the title, but once in the singular and once in the plural. For example: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter and The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer, or Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. (Remember, you must read both books to get 40 points; this category is not worth 20 points per book.) I have a few ideas for this one. Trying to make it fit the Big Read, so I’m thinking Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. The Old Man and the Sea and Two Men in a Boat are also options.

That’s all of this year’s categories. Looks like it’s going to be an interesting one! Roll on the 1st of June!

Are you joining in? You can link up your preliminary list or get ideas from everyone else’s here.


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Inside the Theme: Woodland Fantasy

inside-the-theme

I’m going to do something a bit different today…

A while ago I mentioned that I had signed up for a geeky pen pals site. But the IGGPPC is so much more than just a place to find pen pals. There are forums where you can chat and a blog that discusses the latest happenings in the geeky world (new computer games, books, films, TV shows…). Each month, there is also a different theme including various activities to go along with it, such as a watch-along of a film (everyone watches a film at the same time and tweets about it). There is also a set of questions to go along with the theme. This month, the theme is Woodland Fantasy and I liked the questions so much that I’ve decided to answer them on my blog.

 

  • What is your favourite fantasy story, and what’s so great about it?That’s a difficult one to answer, but I think I’d have to go with Discworld. Pratchett was such an excellent writer. I love his humour, the way he incorporates elements of our world into his Discworld, managing to look at society critically while still being funny. The way he brings his characters to life. His descriptions. Just… everything about the series. Please don’t ask me to pick a specific book though!
  • What was your first experience with fantasy?It depends what you consider fantasy, I suppose. If animals that talk and dress in human clothing are fantasy then it was probably Beatrix Potter’s books. Otherwise it would have been something by Enid Blyton – maybe The Wishing Chair? Or it could have been Disney’s Alice in Wonderland – my favourite film as a child! Then again, there was also Bananaman and Superted. Which came first, books or cartoons? Hmm.
  • Modern technology allows fantasy stories to be told in a variety of different mediums now; do you prefer diving into a good old fashioned book, reading a colorful comic, yelling at your videogames while bathing in the blood of your virtual enemies, or snacking on all the popcorns in front of your TV or at the movies? (Listening to troubadours performing the ballad of Beowulf is also a totally valid choice.)Regular readers probably won’t need to be told this, but for me it’s definitely books! Real ones… no Kindles here, thank you. I do like a good fantasy film occasionally though.
  • Pets are a very popular choice in fantasy. Because pets are awesome. Which magical pet would you most like to adopt? (You can either go with a kind of creature, or a specific pet from a specific story you wouldn’t mind moving in with you – because let’s face it, we all want Toothless as a bestie.)Dragon Eastside GalleryA dragon! Party because of the relationship between the dragons and their riders in the Dragonlance series, and partly because of Toothless. I mean… who doesn’t want a Toothless of their very own? Obviously I’m assuming I would have somewhere to keep said dragon and that it would either be harmless (no fire-breathing!) or very, very tame!
  • Your RPG play style: alignment, faction, race, and class. Do you play tabletop style or in a digital medium?I play a wizard in Warhammer Quest. Never anything else. I’ve also played the original Warhammer (the one with the huge table filled with different armies) where I was dwarves. I prefer Warhammer Quest though. I’ve never actually played Dungeons and Dragons, the original roleplaying game! And neither have I played on of the various computer-based versions (World of Warcraft or whatever).

So there you have it. Feel free to answer the questions yourself if you want – there’s no need to sign up to the website to do so!


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Recent doings #5

It’s time for another What’s New With You? linkup with Gretchen and Kristen, which means it has also been a whole month since the last one. I’m not entirely sure how that happened. The year is one third over already, guys! What?! How?!

I scheduled this post to publish yesterday, while Jan and I were out hiking, so it would appear on actual link-up day, but apparently WordPress chose to ignore me?! So instead you’re getting it in place of Friday letters…

What's New With You

 

Reading. I picked up Possession by A.S Byatt again (and fiinally finished it on the train home from work yesterday. Another Big Read book down!). I aso read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith on the flight back from New Zealand. It was interesting, and so different to 101 Dalmatians! There were some other quick reads in between as well, but those two are the main ones.

Watching. I was going to say we didn’t watch anything in April (except for like breakfast TV, which Jan puts on every morning!), but then I remembered that we started watching Mr. Robot again on 30th April so it totally counts😉

Going. (That seems like an odd descriptor, but it was too close to really be called travelling). To Allschwil for April’s destination for Take 12 Trips (in case you missed it, I’m taking the challenge again).

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Houses in Allschwil

Eating. Camel’s milk chocolate! We bought it in Dubai. Honestly, it didn’t taste particularly different to normal chocolate – and it wasn’t even all that great. I’m not really sure what I was expecting though.

Cross stitching. A new home card for a pen pal. I’ve also been working on something bigger, but I can’t tell you about that yet (you never know who reads here…)

Looking. For furniture. We actually managed to order a wardrobe, which will be delivered in June (why so long?!), but balcony furniture is proving more of a challenge. It’s surprisingly difficult to find stuff that a) we both like b) actually fits on our smallish balcony and c) isn’t either ridiculously expensive or terribly cheap (in terms of quality; cheap price wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t already scratched from being stored badly!).

What did you do in April? Check out the linkup to see how everyone else spent the month.


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Recent doings #4

I wanted to post this yesterday, on actual link-up day (the first Thursday of the month), but Jan had taken over the computer to upload his photos, so in place of Friday letters I bring you my “doings” from March… even though you all already know it was all about New Zealand!

What's New With You
Reading: I bought (or rather had Jan buy me) Friday On My Mind by Nicci French from Zurich airport and read that while waiting for our flight to New Zealand. It was good! (I also read a book on the way back, but it was April by that time so I won’t include it).
Watching: On the flight to Dubai I watched The Rescuers Downunder – a sequel to The Rescuers. It seemed appropriate😉 (although it’s set in Australia, not New Zealand). It was very cute, of course. Then I watched something called The Gift, which was weird. On the Dubai-Auckland flight I watched Toy Story 3, which I had somehow never seen! Before New Zealand, we started watching Mr Robot, which I bought Jan for his birthday. Two episodes in, it seems good – but intense. It’s difficult to cross stitch while watching because I miss stuff.
Drinking: Many New Zealand beers! Also wine – we did a wine tour.
Visiting: My uncle in Rotorua. I met my three year old cousin for the first time, and she’s just the cutest!
Travelling: To New Zealand, obviously, but before that we did a day trip to Lausanne.
I can’t even remember what I was doing pre-New Zealand so I’m going to stop here.
What have you been doing recently?
Check out the link up to see how everyone else spent March!
p.s. I don’t know what’s wrong with my formatting? I swear I entered spaces between each item…


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Recent doings #3

It’s the first Thursday of the month (what? How?!), so it’s time for another of Kristen‘s What’s New With You linkup. Or, in my case, more recent doings. Here’s what I’ve been up to in February.

What's New With You
Reading: Various things, but most recently As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley. I loved it! Flavia is just as awesome as ever. I also finished Brideshead Revisited, so I can cross that off the BBC Big Read list.
Watching: Still Farscape. Not for much longer though – we’re on the final disc of Season 4.
Eating: Fondue! We had visitors who hadn’t been to Switzerland before, so we had to introduce them to this cheesy goodness.
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Cooking: All the avocados still. Thanks everyone for the recipe tips, especially whoever suggested using avocado as pasta sauce. I made one with avocado and garlic and it was amazing! Also, chickpeas. I’ve been putting chickpeas in everything!
Planning: Still New Zealand. We’re getting there though. 15 days til we fly!
Finding: Bits of confetti everywhere. Still! It’s been two weeks since Fasnacht, and I still keep hoovering up tiny pieces of coloured paper.
That’s all I can think of for now. What have you been doing recently?
Come link up to see how everyone else’s February was!


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Recent doings #2

This is my version of the post that other people call “Currently”. I did one in November, and I decided that it was the perfect post for Kristin‘s new linkup, “What’s New With You”. So what have I been doing recently?

What's New With You
Watching: Farscape. Jan get season 4 for Christmas then we realised we never actually finished season 3, so we’ve been going through that. One more episode to go then we can move on to season 4.
Reading: Well, I already told you I completed the winter reading challenge. I’ve read a few books since then, but right now I’m half way through One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis. It started off good, but now I’m not so sure.
Planning: New Zealand, baby! We have a huge list of potential places, now we just need to narrow it down. Which is harder than it sounds!
Cooking: Bulghur wheat and avocado salad for last night’s tea. I’m trying to figure out more creative ways of using avocados since they’re supposed to be sooo good for you, so if you have any suggestions I’m all ears! (Or I suppose all eyes, since I’ll be reading them.)
Eating: Far too much chocolate. Switzerland is very, very bad for my figure (and my teeth)!
Visiting: Museums. Basel had its museums night a few weeks ago and we saw a very interesting exhibition about death and some amazing old maps of Basel, among other things.
Going: To Germany, for work. Tonight.
Celebrating: My 12th anniversary as Jan’s girlfriend! It’s tomorrow, so fingers crossed I don’t get back from Germany too late!

 

What have you been doing lately?


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Winter Reading Challenge – final check in

The 2015 winter reading challenge ended last night, so it’s time for my final check in. Aaand… I actually managed to complete it! I finished reading my final book on 24 January, So here are the books I read for the last few categories:

10 points: Read a book that someone else has already used for the challenge. Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery (read by Emma from Ever Emma). I read Anne of Green Gables years ago, but never got round to reading any of the other in the series, although I’ve wanted to for a while. So when I saw that Emma had mentioned this in her check in, I decided to take the opportunity. Nothing much really happens in this book, but I enjoyed it anyway. I love Anne and her imagination. I gave it 4 stars.

30 points: Read a nonfiction book and a fiction book about the same subject. Megan said she would be fairly lenient with this category, so I’m hoping my “subject” counts.

Non-fiction book: Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine by Anna Reid. Long-term readers may know that my grandad was Ukrainian. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to learn more about his country, but barely any books came up when I searched Amazon. Then the whole Russia taking back Crimea thing happened and suddenly there were loads of books! This one was actually originally written in the 90s (so why didn’t it show up before?!), but has been updated to include everything up to 2014. I thought it was a good introduction to the history of Ukraine for those who know zero about it (which, much to my shame, includes me!). I also liked that the author was actually there and included a lot of personal anecdotes – I just can’t get on with history books that are all about facts! I gave this one 4 stars.

Fiction book: Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov. This is a weird book about a Ukrainian writer/journalist who lives in Kiev with his pet penguin. When the book begins, he’s struggling to find work, but then a local paper recruits him to write obituaries… for people who are still alive (so the newspaper has then on hand instantly when they actually do croak). When the subjects of his obituaries start to die, thing begin to get really strange… I actually enjoyed this book, weird as it was. There’s just something about it that makes it fun. And I loved Misha the penguin. 4 stars.

The subject, in case it wasn’t obvious, is Ukraine.

So, that’s that. Now I shall read whatever I want until it’s time for the summer reading challenge.

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