The Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt

Well hello there! Today I am once again doing a tag post that I was never even tagged in. In fact, I literally found it by googling something along the lines of bookish tags. Is that cheating? I don’t care… I thought it looked fun so I’m doing it. I have no idea who created this game originally so I can’t link to them. I believe it started on YouTube, which I suppose makes more sense as a “scavenger hunt” since you get to watch them actually look for the books. None of that here though, so you’ll just have to make do with photos.

Anyway… the goal of this challenge is to find books on your shelves based on specific prompts. I can’t explain better than that, so I’ll just get started. Apologies for the quality of my photos – it has been trying to snow for the past few days and my bookcases are quite far from the window anyway so I had to switch on the light.

Find an author’s name or title with the letter Z in it

Thanks to my former boss, I have a whole bunch of books by Sebastian Fitzek, but I decided to go with this one:

1 Author with Z

A thriller set on a cruise ship. The blurb says: “On average, 23 people per year disappear without a trace from cruise ships. Never before has someone come back… until now.” I love Sebastain Fitzek’s writing and this was a great thriller, but I was unable to relate to any of the characters and actually couldn’t have cared less if the main person had died! I gave it 4 stars though. It’s been translated under the title Passenger 23 if you’re interested in reading it.

Find a classic

This one was easy to find since all my classics live together. I chose this one because it has a pretty cover.

2 classic

I haven’t actually read it so no idea whether it’s any good. My grandma likes Thomas Hardy though.

Find a book with a key on the cover

A lot of people had trouble with this category, but luckily I had been sorting out my to-read books recently and I remembered seeing a key one of those books.

3 key on cover

Like I said, it’s on my to-read shelf so I can’t say if I recommend. It sounds good…

Find something on your bookshelf that’s not a book

I have a few non-book items on my bookshelf, but I chose to go with this:

4 non-book

Meet Arthur! I bought him at Cardiff Castle and he’s clearly a Welsh dragon. The name is a play on King Arthur (Arthur the dragon =  Arthur Pendragon. Yes, I thought I was being clever…)

Find the oldest book on your shelf

I think it’s probably this one.

5 oldest book

I took a photo of the inside cover since the outside is just plain red. Jan’s sister got me this from a second-hand bookshop and it has no date in, but on the spine it says it’s by “Dean Swift”. If he was still a Dean at the time it was printed I assume it’s a pretty old edition?

Find a book with a girl on the cover

This book has two girls on the cover. Do I get extra points for that? 😉

6 girl on cover

Again, I haven’t read this book yet so I can’t tell you whether it’s any good.

Find a book that has an animal in/on it

Some versions said in and some said on, so I went with a book that both has an animal on the cover and features an animal in the story.

7 animal on cover

Again, I have not read it (those books were the easiest to find because the recent sorting meant I knew exactly where they were), but how stunning is that cover?

Find a book with a male protagonist

I have a few, but this was the first one my eyes landed on:

8 male protagonist

The protagonist is a boy named Will. I read this one last year and I really enjoyed it.

Find a book with only words on it

This one was difficult and I spent ages hunting!

9 only words

The words are kind of stylised and have thorns on, but I think it still counts?
I had actually forgotten I had this book! I read it years ago – before I joined Goodreads. I’m fairly sure I enjoyed it but I think I may have to read it again now I’ve rediscovered it.

Find a book with illustrations in it

This one has illustrations and is also a really cute story:

10 book with illustrations

Find a book with gold lettering

Another one from my to-read shelf.

11 gold lettering

Find a diary (true or fictional)

As soon as I saw the word diary I knew which book I was going to grab for this one:

12 diary

I got this one from a second-hand book stall at an indoor market (I’ve since learned the stall has closed… noooo!) when I was about 14 and it’s one of my all time favourite books. I wrote about it here.

Find a book written by someone with a common name (like Smith)

I didn’t want to literally go with Smith (although I could have) sooo…

13 common name

I feel like everyone knows a Dan(iel) – if you don’t please don’t shatter my illusions 😉 – and Brown is a pretty common surname.
My grandma gave this to Jan years ago. I have read it but I remember almost nothing about it!

Find a book that has a close up of something on it

14 close up

It’s a close up of a baby dragon hatching. YAY! I’ve read this one. It’s an adorable children’s book.

Find the book on your shelf that takes place in the earliest time period

This takes place in the Stone Age – I don’t think you can get a much earlier setting than that? Certainly not on my shelves!

15 earliest setting

Find a hardcover book without a jacket

This had a dust jacket at one point, but I’ve had it since I was little and I have no idea what happened to it!

16 hardcover no dust jacket

Again, I took a photo of the inside because the naked cover is literally just blue 😉
I really don’t think I need to tell you anything about this book? It’s a classic!

Find a teal/turquoise coloured book

17 turquoise book

I think this is turquoise? The photo looks closer to green, but in person it looks turquoise to me. You’ll just have to take my word for it!

Find a book with stars on it

18 stars on cover

I read this one recently, and wrote about it in my very long Show Us Your Books post.

Find a non YA book

I know it may seem like I read a lot of YA, but actually the majority of my books are for adults so this was really easy. I chose Stephen King because you cannot get much further from YA!

19 non-YA

Again, I have not read this one yet, so don’t ask me what it’s about!

And that’s everything. This was great fun to do! If anyone else decides to do it please let me know (it’s easiest if you have a lot of books!).

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What I read in January 2018

Hello! I’m back again for another round of Show Us Your Books with Steph and Jana… very late to the party given the link up was on Tuesday when I was on a train for two hours then in the office then back on a train for another two hours. No time for blogging! But I am here now and I want to talk about reading.

After only finishing 4 books in December, I did really well in January managing to complete the first round of Erin’s book challenge in 20 days. That’s 10 books read from 1st to 20th January, leaving me with another 11 days for non-challenge reading. So let’s take a look at my January books.

Challenge books first, then the rest. Apologies in advance – this is going to get long!

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The Lost Twin (Scarlet and Ivy book 1) by Sophie Cleverley (288 pages, read for: book with a mostly red cover). I absolutely adored this book. It’s both a boarding school book and a mystery, and it features twins, three things I’ve always loved in a book. Where were all the books like this when I was 10? The basic story is that 11-year-old Ivy is “invited” (i.e. forced) to a prestigious boarding school to take the place of her sister, Scarlet, who has disappeared. Once there, she finds a series of clues planted by Scarlet, which she follows in attempt to get her twin back. I loved Ivy and her room mate/best friend Ariadne, I loved the mystery… basically I loved everything about this book. Five stars and highly recommended!

A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson (528 pages, read for: book with a character name in the title). The basic idea of this book is that the titular Anna Browne starts receiving mysterious packages at work, each of which makes her feel special and encourages her to come out of the shadows and change her life for the better. Most of her friends find it creepy, but Anna thinks it’s nice. Eventually she decides she does want to know who is sending the packages, so she can at least say thank you. Sounds like a fun story, right? I really wanted to love this one. I mean, mysterious packages – it sounds so intriguing! But somehow I just couldn’t get into this one the way I wanted to. Anna is a perfectly nice character, but that’s all she is… just nice. Almost too nice at times. And bland. Except when she’s getting weirdly possessive about her parcels and refusing to open them until she’s own her own. “It’s my gift… why should anybody else get the pleasure of seeing me open it“. My precioussss! When the reveal finally came I was disappointed – it just didn’t make sense to me! (Although I can’t say why without spoiling it). There is also a romance that I just didn’t get at all. They just don’t seem to have anything in common. I gave it three stars because it’s a perfectly nice story, but nothing more than that.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas (368 pages, read for: a book that starts with L). This one is difficult to review. It’s basically the story  of a woman – Francesca or Frankie, whose best friend disappeared, presumed drowned twenty years ago. When human remains are found, Frankie returns to the village she grew up in to face her past. It should have been precisely the kind of thriller I love, but somehow it wasn’t. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t keep me wanting to read it when I should have been doing something else. It’s rare that I can easily put a book down because it’s time to sleep! I didn’t guess what happened, but a lot of people did so I guess I’m slow. There is a rape scene, so be aware of that if that is likely to upset you. I gave this one 3 stars.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold (352 pages, read for: a book that takes place (mostly) on a form of transport). After two mediocre books, this one was a breath of fresh air. I LOVED it! When Mim Malone’s parents divorce, she is forced to move from Ohio to Mississippi with her dad and new stepmother. A conversation she overhears leads her to believe her mother needs her, she sets off on a Greyhound bus, meeting a whole bunch of quirky characters along the way. Mim obviously has issues and is entirely unreliable as a narrator, but I still found myself adoring her and rooting for her all the way. I gave this book 5 stars, although in the interests of honesty I should point out that that may have been a reaction to how “meh” I found the previous books. To an extent, my ratings are always dependent on my current mood though, so it’s really nothing new.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (282 pages, read for: a book from a specific list of books with twists). Okay, first of all I have to say I have no idea why this book was on the list it was on. There wasn’t really a twist, as such. While it’s not immediately obvious what’s going on, the knowledge is imparted gradually throughout the book starting from very early on. Anyway, it’s really hard to review this book without spoiling it. You really need to go in not knowing what’s going on. It’s creepy and dystopian and raises interesting questions about people’s willingness to go along with things. And that’s all I’m saying. Just read it. 5 stars.

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (336 pages, read as my freebie). This book has a bit of everything… teenage pregnancy, illegal immigration, first love, a woman who has no idea how to be a parent but is trying her best. But despite all that it somehow didn’t seem too full – all the various issues just seemed to make sense as part of the whole story. Maybe also because – to me at least – it also didn’t seem that deep. It was relatively easy to read despite dealing with some really heavy issues. That spoiled it a bit for me – with all that going on I would have expected to have loads of thoughts about all these issues, but instead I just breezed through it. Which sounds like it should be a compliment, so maybe this is just me being weird? Anyway, Vanessa Diffenbaugh is an amazing writer and I can’t wait to read more from her. I gave this one 4 stars.

The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester (272 pages, read for: a book with “house” or “home” in the title). I didn’t even manage to write a review for this one on GoodReads because I honestly didn’t know what to say! It’s… weird. A family drama with possibly the strangest set of twins I’ve ever encountered in literature. The book opens with the twins’ father dying by falling off a cliff he’d been living next to all his life… maybe you would be a bit strange after that, but from the back story it seems like they were always strange. And not just because they were weirdly close. The writing is good but the characters are all equally unlikeable… except maybe the grandfather. I can’t really describe it better than this, so all I can say is if you’re intrigued maybe give it a try? 3 stars.

Das Mohnblütenjahr by Corina Bomann (528 pages, read for: a book originally written in a language that is not your own). As you can see, I’m a show-off so I actually read the book in the original language that is not my own 😉 Other books by this author have been translated into English but apparently not this one. This is a story that takes place in two time periods. In the present, we have Nicole, who is pregnant and has just found out her baby has a probably genetic heart problem. Nicole never met her father and knows nothing about him, but when the doctor asks her to find out about possible heart problems in his family she finally persuades her mother to talk. Then we have Nicole’s mother’s story, which takes us through her childhood to the year she spent teaching in France, where she met the man who was to become Nicole’s father. I enjoyed the past story more, partly because I just didn’t like Nicole that much, but also because it was more interesting. I got through this one relatively quickly, mostly thanks to having to go into the office which meant four hours on trains. It’s not a bad book, but I much preferred Die Schmetterlingsinsel – the only other book I’ve read by this author. By the way, that one has been translated, under the title Butterfly Island. Anyway, I gave this one 4 stars.

After the Fear by Rosanne Rivers (314 pages, read for: a book whose author’s first and last name start with the same letter). This is a dystopian novel set in a Great Britain of the future. Basically, the country has managed to get into loads of debt with other countries and the citizens all have to help pay it back, either by paying to go to “demonstrations” or by being involved in “demonstrations”. Said demonstrations are basically fights to the death between “demonstrators” and criminals. It seems like anyone can be chosen as a demonstrator (some were really young), and of course our heroine, Sola, ends up being chosen. The story itself is quite interesting. I was intrigued by the idea of this society and would have liked to find out more about ordinary life for the citizens. However, the writing isn’t great – if I saw the word “which” one more time I swear I would have started taking red pen to it! Half the time they should have been replaced with “that”, but in some instances there just didn’t need to be anything there at all. Aaah! Where was the editor? Of course, there’s a mean girl who seems almost too mean. Like a caricature of meanness. Even after nearly dying she’s still showing no emotion and trying to manipulate people?And this is a girl in high school – not some super villain! And there’s a romance, but it is kind of intregal to the plot so I’ll let it go. Lots of people compared this one to The Hunger Games. I haven’t read it, so I wouldn’t know. What the demonstrations really reminded me of was the gladiator fights of Roman times. Anywaaay, time to wrap this up. It was good enough to pass the time but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. There are better dystopian YA novels. 3 stars.

Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt (400 pages, read for: a book with a character who has a debilitating physical illness). The illness is leukaemia. So yes, this is a teen cancer book. Given the subject matter, it feels kind of wrong to say I enjoyed this book. When Mia is diagnosed with leukaemia, she doesn’t want anyone to know. She somehow thinks she can go through the treatment, beat it, and get on with her life. But obviously it can’t work like that. In real life, I probably would have hated Mia – cheerleader, popular student with her very own “clique”. But I actually really felt for book Mia. I wanted to shake her at times, then I felt sorry for her, then I cried. There is a love triangle going on, but for once I didn’t mind it. Both boys had their flaws, but it wasn’t just a case of “amazing just-a-friend guy who she should clearly be with” vs. “bad boy who is actually really not good for anyone but of course our main character believes she can change him”. Ryan, the popular “hot jock” really did seem to care for Mia and one thing I loved was a scene where Ryan and Mia are making out in his bedroom and he keeps asking if things are okay, then when she tenses up/hesitates he notices and stops what he was doing. This should not even be a thing that deserves special mention, but sadly it is. So yeah. I’m in the minority here, but I liked this so much more than The Fault in Our Stars.  Not a full 5 stars but very readable.

And that brings us to the end of my challenge reading. Now on to the other books I read in January. Sorry – I did say it was going to be long!

The Whispers in the Walls by Sophie Cleverly (Scarlet and Ivy Book 2). In this book, the twins return to Rookwood School where there is once again a mystery to solve. This time the terrifying headmaster seems to be involved. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first one – possibly because it was written from alternating points of view and I just wasn’t a fan of Scarlet. I loved Ivy in the first one and I wish she had continued to be the narrator this time round. Every time it switched to Scarlet’s point of view I wanted to shake her. She comes across as such a selfish, spoiled brat! That’s not to say I didn’t like the book though – I just didn’t love and adore it like the first one. I’ve since read book 3 and have book 4 waiting for me. YAY! 4 stars for this one. Also, I have to mention the dedicatione:

In Memory of Sir Terry Pratchett
“Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”

*Sniffle*. Now I miss Terry Pratchett all over again!
By the way, I had to re-buy this book because the cover of the copy I originally got didn’t the rest of the series. Tragedy! So if anyone wants to start reading these books let me know and I’ll send this one to you. I’m afraid you’ll have to get hold of book 1 yourself though.

The Queen’s Nose by Dick King-Smith. I remember watching this TV series when I was about 12, but I had never read the book. I recognised some things from the TV show, but I feel like screen Harmony was older than book Harmony? She’s 10 in this but I seem to remember the girls being about 13 and 16? Anyway, this is a cute little book about a magic 50p coin that grants wishes. It’s set in 1983 and references cables, but other than that and mentions of Harmony being born in 1973 it doesn’t feel too dated to me. Maybe it’s a little slower than modern books? I still think children aged 8-10 year will enjoy it anyway. 4 stars.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. This story is narrated by 12-year-old Jack, whose family is fostering 14-year-old Joseph. Before Joseph arrives, all Jack knows about him is he has a daughter and he’s just been released from a young offenders’ institute. So it’s about teen parenthood, but it’s also about so much more than that – friendship, love and about not judging a person without getting to know them first. And it’s about cows… I loved the cows! (Jack’s family live on a farm). My main issue with the book is that the ending seemed rushed. I felt like I was just getting to know Joseph then BAM… The End! I gave it 3.5 stars, so 4 on Goodreads because I like to round up.

The Witch of Demon Rock by Gabrielle Kent (Alfie Bloom book 3). I am still really enjoying this series. At the start I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy it as much as the previous two, but then I ended up staying up until 1am to finish it sooo… 😉
My favourite thing about these books is still the friendships. Alfie and his cousins/friend are a real team even if they bicker occasionally. I also like that the parents (or in Alfie’s case his dad) are present and the adults are all actually responsible! In this one the children go back in time to visit someone (sounds odd – you have to read it!) and before they do the person they’re visiting insists on meeting with Alfie’s dad and arranging things possible. The dad in turn insists that an adult (the butler) go with them. Of course, the children do end up dealing with things on their own throughout the series, but there’s always a reason the adults aren’t around. I’m really interested to see where the series will go now that what seems to be the main adversary has been dealt with.

Elen’s Island by Eloise Williams. The basic story: When Elen’s parents go abroad, she’s sent to stay with her grumpy granny on a Welsh island. Elen and a new friend she meets there become convinced there’s treasure on the island and set out to find it. This is very much a book for younger readers. It says age 7-9 but I think at 9 I might have found it a little boring. That may just be me though – I was reading Agatha Christie at 10. As an adult I could see the charm in this sweet little book. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I got to the end of this book and my first thought was “what on Earth did I just read?!”. It doesn’t really have a plot as such – it’s just a bunch of guys travelling across the US time and again, getting drunk and high and having lots of sex. Surprisingly, I didn’t hate it, although I didn’t really like it either. None of the characters are particularly likeable and the way women are treated in the book is awful (and don’t try to tell me it’s a product of its time!). How enough people chose it as their favourite book for it to end up on the BBC Big Read list is beyond me! I won’t be reading it again, so if anyone wants it let me know and I’ll post it out to you. 2 stars.

On the Road was my final January read – I actually finished it on the train home from Germany on 31st January so it only just made it into this post! Sooo that’s 16 book reviews in this post. Phew!

Oh, and if anyone’s still wondering how I read so many books, I don’t usually include page numbers other than for challenges (to prove the books were long enough), but just so you know The Queen’s Nose has 150 pages (and large font), Orbiting Jupiter is 183 pages and Elen’s Island is 153 pages (and again large font). So other than being anti-social and spending Saturday afternoons reading, my tip is: read short books that are actually meant for 8 year olds 😉

If you’ve read any of these books let me know what you thought. Do you agree with my opinions? Or just tell me something good you’ve read recently. And of course check out the link up to see what everyone else has been reading.

Friday letters

Hello friends! (I hope none of you mind being called friends?). It’s finally Friday and I haven’t done Friday letters for a while, so I thought I would today. Here goes.

Friday letters

Dear Switzerland. A recent blog post by Kezzie and a slightly less recent one by Hazel have reminded my once again of how badly you need to up your recycling game. After being able to place basically all packaging in the recyclables bin in Germany I find it so frustrating to have to throw so much into the ordinary household waste here (and yes, I take my plastic bottles back to the supermarket but they won’t accept yoghurt pots or toothpaste tubes, for instance). Even Britain has recycling bins. Sort it out, Switzerland!

Dear unread books. I recently rearranged my shelves so that most of you are together and I hadn’t realised quite how many of you I own! I really need to start reading books I own before buying more…

unread books
I actually have more unread books than this, but I couldn’t fit any more on these shelves. Also, I excluded classics & non-fiction entirely since they have specific sections on my bookcases.

Dear water. Why is it so difficult to remember to drink enough of you? Must try harder!

Dear Basel cinemas. Why aren’t you showing the new Jumanji film in English? Just because it’s aimed at children doesn’t mean nobody wants to see it in the original language – do you know how many English-speaking children there are in the region?

Dear weekend. I’m glad you’re almost here. I’ve been very tired this week and I’m looking forward to a lie in!

Dear boyfriend. Thank you for sorting out the dishwasher and not complaining (often) when I fail to put away my lunch dishes.

That’s all for today folks. Happy Friday, wherever you are.

The Guilty Reader Book Tag

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Hello everyone! So, I wasn’t even tagged for this – I just randomly found it on the Internet. I thought it looked fun though, so I just decided to do it anyway. The original came from YouTube (or Booktube as the cool people apparently call YouTube channels that talk about books). I wanted to link it, but as soon as I opened YouTube it totally froze my Internet browser so you’ll just have to look it up for yourselves. The channel is called A Dash of Ash.

Anyway, the idea of this tag seems to be to answer questions about habits that some people I suppose would consider “bad”, hence the guilty thing.
Here goes:

Have you ever re-gifted a book you’ve been given?

Only if giving them away to charity shops counts? I don’t think I’ve ever literally wrapped a book up as a gift that was originally given to me as a gift and passed it on to someone else. I maaay have carefully read a book I was planning on giving to someone before actually wrapping it though 😉

Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?

Nope. Even in school I was a little swot and genuinely read all our assigned books 😉 I even read all of Faserland for my German culture class at university and I hated that book! Luckily it’s relatively short.

Have you ever  borrowed a book and not returned it?

Umm, I accidentally kept a book I borrowed from the school I was at before I moved to live with my dad. I had already moved when I realised I still had it. I also still have a Linwood Barclay book on my shelf that technically belongs to my mother. Ahem.

Have you ever read a series out of order?

I do this all the time with crime/thriller series! With those kinds of books it’s usually the current case that’s important anyway so you can get away with it. Only occasionally are the gaps in the detective’s back story an issue. Oh, and going back to my childhood I definitely read The Babysitter’s Club out of order! I only actually owned a few and for the rest had to rely on whichever ones the local library happened to have, but it was okay because they always explain everything at the start of the book ;-). The same thing happened with the Chalet School books actually – the first one I read originally belonged to one of my aunts and it definitely wasn’t the first one. But again it wasn’t sooo important. On odd occasions a Chalet School book continued a story from the previous book, but mostly they were fairly self-contained. I still haven’t read all the books in the series because they’re mostly out of print and I’ve never managed to find the missing ones in second hand shops.

Chalet school books

Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?

I don’t think so? I might have told Jan how a book ends, but it’s not really spoiling when he’s never going to read that book anyway! I would never do it for one he might actually be interested in.

Have you ever dog-eared a book?

I did when I was younger – a lot of my childhood books have folded over corners. Apparently bookmarks were not a thing in my world? I would never treat a book that badly now though! However, I do use random things to mark my page… receipts, envelopes, other books. You wouldn’t think I actually own about 30 bookmarks!

Have you ever told someone you don’t own a book when you do?

No. Not on purpose anyway. I suppose it’s possible that I haven’t remembered I own a book when somebody asked. Not that many people ask about books I own.

Interestingly the answers to this seem to be divided into people thinking you would deny owning a book because you’re ashamed of it and those who say they’ve denied having a book to get out of lending it to someone.

Have you ever told someone you haven’t read a book when you have?

No. If I’ve read a book I have no problem admitting to it – even if that book were 50 Shades of Grey (which I genuinely have not read by the way. And I have no interest in it either).

Have you ever skipped a chapter or a section of a book?

No. I may have skim read some of the books we were assigned in school, but I never skipped whole sections. Not in fiction books anyway – I probably skipped whole sections of text books back in the day.

Have you ever bad mouthed a book you actually liked?

No. Why would I do that? If I like a book I don’t care who knows that I liked it… even if nobody else on the planet seems to enjoy it. Conversely, I ave no problem telling people I don’t like popular books (I’m looking at you Wuthering Heights and The Catcher in the Rye!). What’s the point in pretending?

Since I wasn’t actually tagged for this I’m not sure whether it’s fair for me to tag other people, but if you feel like doing it please let me know so I can come and have a nose at your answers. Or if you’ve already done it post a link in the comments. Alternatively, you can just answer one or two questions in the comments if you prefer.

Book challenge by Erin 8.0: Bonus round

Good morning friends! It’s now February and that means time for the bonus round of Erin’s challenge! The rules are basically the same as for the first challenge (one book per category, all books must be 200+ pages) with the addition that 5 of the books must have been previously chosen by another participant. You also get 5 extra points for each book you read that was previously chosen. And now, here is my list – with a few gaps that I have yet to fill.

erin-book-challenge-group-header

10 points: Freebie –TBD
15 points: Book that starts with the letter “L” – TBD
15 points: Book with a (mostly) red cover – Us by David Nicholls (hopefully – have ordered it so I’ll see if it shows up with a red cover!)
20 points: Read a book with a character’s name in the title – TBD -> I have about four unread books with character names in the title but were any of them previously chosen for this challenge? Of course not!
25 points: Read a book from this list: Book Riot’s 100 Must-Read Books with Plot Twists – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
25 points: Read a book with the words “house” or “home” in the title – Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
30 points: Read a book by an author whose first and last name begins with the same letter – Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (book 2 of the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Pecuilar Children series)
35 points: Read a book that was originally published in a different language than your own – The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel
35 points: Read a book where most of the action takes place on a form of transportation – Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brien (mode of transport: ship – this is apparently book 1 in a 20 book series. What?!)
40 points: Read a book with a character that suffers from a debilitating physical illness – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

So, those are the books I shall be reading in February… once I’ve finished The Alchemist, which I started last night. Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Ten books that intimidate me

Hello! This is (obviously) a bookish post, so if that’s not your cup of tea feel free to ignore it and come back another day. Those of you that are still around can pull up a pew and we’ll talk books…

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All of the following books area actually sitting on the bookshelves in my living room right now – some of them actually moved to Switzerland with me – but, for whatever reason, I haven’t yet got round to reading any of them. Some I bought just because, a few are on the BBC Big Read and at least one was a gift. What they all have in common is that they intimidate me… which you of course knew because you read the title. *Sigh* I’ll just get on with the list shall I?

1 It by Stephen King

I absolutely love Stephen King. Whenever I rattle off my favourite authors, he’s always right there on the list. I even wrote an essay about Needful Things back in school, and if forced to list my favourite books (an almost impossible task) I would definitely include The Green Mile. So I actually really want to read It. But every time I see it sitting on my shelf with it’s more than 1,300 pages I freak out and grab something else.

2 Ulysses by James Joyce

A BBC Big Read one. Technically so is It, but I would have put that on my list anyway whereas I bought Ulysses purely for the sake of the list. I’m not actually 100% sure what it’s about, other than somehow being somehow related to The Odyssey? At just over 900 pages it’s slightly shorter than It but somehow even more terrifying! What if I don’t understand it and end up feeling like an idiot?  Aaah!

3 The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

My grandparents gave me The Man in the Iron Mask, also by Dumas, for my birthday when I was something like 14 and I really enjoyed it, so you would think I’d be excited about this one. At over 1,000 pages, once again it’s the length that scares me. I actually like big books though, so I have no idea what my problem is…

4 The Godfather by Mario Puzo

This one is also on the BBC Big Read list – I doubt I would ever have picked it up otherwise. I like thrillers and I like crime, so this one should be right up my street. And it’s not even that long in relation to the three I’ve mentioned so far. But something about the Mafia just doesn’t really appeal. (I’ve never seen the films either by the way, in case anyone was wondering.)

5 H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction

Jan and I picked this up from the John Rylands Library gift shop in Manchester a few years ago. It’s leather bound with shiny page edges and it’s just gorgeous. This one is novellas and short stories, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to at least start it, but something keeps putting me off.

6 Map of a Nation by Rachel Hewitt

Ah, the first non-fiction book on my list. This is essentially the story of how the Ordnance Survey map came to be. I bought it for Jan as a Christmas gift years ago because he’s really interested in maps and then later also bought it for my dad, who reported that it was fascinating (Jan still hasn’t read it!). I’m always useless with non-fiction though, and where 400 and odd pages would be nothing in a novel, every time I think I might read this book I put it back because it seems really long.

7 Tintenherz by Cornelia Funke

A German one now – you will know it as Inkheart, book one of the Inkworld series. This was a Christmas gift from Jan’s mum way too many years ago… I remember lending it to our very first English intern at work when I’d only been there a couple of years myself! This is a book about books, and about characters in books coming to life. It really couldn’t be any more perfect for me. And I’ve read enough adult books in German for a children’s book not to be an issue… so why do I back off immediately when I happen to spot this one on my shelf?

8 The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

I bought this a few years ago intending to read it for a book challenge, but I ended up switching to something else instead. Since then, I’ve had this one in my hand a few times, but always put it back thinking I would prefer to read something shorter. Ironically, this one is only 560 pages – certainly not long enough to be scared of!

9 Ukraine’s Orange Revolution by Andrew Wilson

More non-fiction. At only 256 pages, this one should be a quick enough read and I genuinely do want to read more about my granddad’s country (even if the events of the book happened long after he left, and in fact many years after his death). Alas,  choose fiction over politics and history almost every time!

10 Blasmusikpop by Vea Kaiser

Finally, another German one. I actually went to a reading of this book, and enjoyed the extract so much that I bought a book at the event and had the author sign it. I’m pretty sure I will love this book when I finally actually get round to reading it, but every time I see it staring accusingly at me from the shelf I hastily choose something else to read. Maybe my reluctance to read this one is precisely because I’ve left it so long?

I have more intimidating books on my shelves, but ten is quite enough for one post! So, have you read any of these? Care to reassure me that they’re not as scary as I’ve built them up to be? (Or alternatively tell me that they’re really hard to read my reluctance is justified!) Do you own any books that you find intimidating but actually really want to give a chance? Answers in the comments! Or, you know, just write your own post and I’ll come and have a nosy.

What I read in December 2017

Yes, it’s another link-up post. Sorry! I will write something real soon. But it’s Show Us Your Books day and I feel compelled to show you my books.

This will be a relatively short one since I didn’t finish that many books in December.

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The Naming of the Shrew: A Curious History of Latin Names by John Wright. I gave my dad this book for Christmas 2016 and he lent it to me when I saw him in the summer, so I wanted to finish it so I could return it when I went over for my sister’s wedding. I started it in November and finished it in December, but technically read it in two train rides – I took it with me when I had to go into the office. Some sections are a bit long winded but overall it’s interesting. You can certainly tell the author is enthusiastic about the subject – his love for his field shines through. A solid four stars.

Missing Rose by Linda Newbery. This one started off strong but ultimately I was disappointed. When I finally found out what happened to Rose it all seemed a bit rushed and anticlimactic. There seemed to be too many subplots all coming together at the end with none really being satisfactorily explained or resolved. It is well written and intriguing for the most part though, just the final chapters let it down. Three stars.

Magician by Raymond E. Feist. At 841 pages this wasn’t even the longest book I read last year but it seemed so long. It was good though… I just couldn’t read loads of it in one sitting. It is fantasy and some of the races seem a little clichéd… elves who hate associating with other races unless they have to because, say, there’s a war on. Sound in any way familiar? I didn’t mind that too much though. I liked most of the characters and mostly enjoyed reading about them. One thing that really annoyed me was the use of “ages ago” to describe basically anything that happened in the past – whether in someone’s use or at the actual start of the world! I assume he was trying to show that although the characters refer to themselves as “humans”, this book is not really set on Earth, but every time I read about something happening “ages ago” I was jolted out of the story by the sheer strangeness of it. Why would anybody use “ages ago” there?! It’s a minor point but it drove me craaaazy! Luckily there wasn’t so much talk of the past towards the end and I finished the last 2 or 3 chapters in one night. It’s the first in a series but if the others are this long I don’t think I’ll bother. I gave it 4 stars though.

Game Changer by Tim Bowler. In essence this is the story of a teen with agoraphobia and anxiety issues who is persuaded to face his fears and actually go out one night by his sister. Unfortunately something happens while they are out and now a gang is out to get him. The book is so action packed that you can’t help but read it in one sitting (it helps that it’s a short book) and Mikey’s agoraphobia and panic attacks seem authentic from what I can tell as a non-sufferer. I found the story really confusing though and once I finally found out what Mikey had actually witnessed the rest of the book felt rushed. Also the brother/ sister relationship was somehow… off. I get that’s she was worried about him but no teenager is that close to their sibling! They seemed almost creepily close. The danger/violence is not the tamest so I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for anyone under the age of about 13/14. If you’re looking for something quick it’s enjoyable enough. Three stars.

And that was it… a mere four books finished. Just after Christmas, I started reading The Pillars of the Earth, which I obviously won’t be finishing any time soon considering it’s over 1,000 pages and I’m occupied with Erin’s challenge! And then I started another book on the train to Geneva because Pillars of the Earth was too big to fit in my handbag… so I’m also currently reading On The Road. I may finish that one in January, depending on how I get on with Erin’s challenge.

Did you read anything good in December? Linking up with Jana and Steph, as always. Hit one of the links to see what other people have been reading recently.