I Dare Ya book tag

I’ve seen this little survey on various blogs – I got it from Kristin, but Tanya and Audrey have also done it. I wasn’t tagged by anyone, but I wanted to play anyway.

What book has been on your shelf the longest?

I have a lot of books I was given when I was little and I obviously can’t remember which one was first, but I’m going to go with The Wind in the Willows. I’ve linked to a random version. Mine has a different illustrator. Also, I’ve lost the dust jacket.

What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

Currently reading The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler. The last book I read was Dead Wrong by Curtis Jobling, book two in the Haunt series. And as for next read… do you seriously expect me to know that already? Let’s just go with it will be one of these:

to-read shelves

Or one of the ones that have crept onto the shelf above because apparently two to-read shelves aren’t enough?

What Books Did Everyone Like, but You Hated?

The Catcher in the Rye – although I am starting to find a few other people who disliked it now. I spent the entire book waiting for the story to start but then nothing ever actually happened. I was in my 20s when I read it so maybe you have to be a teenager to understand? I also hated Wuthering Heights. I read half of it three times before finally finishing it then immediately giving it to a charity shop.

What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

Most of the books on my non-fiction shelf. I am absolutely terrible at reading non-fiction, even if it’s a subject I’m really interested in.

What book are you saving for retirement?

Um, none. I mean I plan to read as much as possible once I retire but there are no books I’m saving specifically for that time. Maybe I’ll finally get to all those classics that really intimidate me?

Last page: read it first or wait ’til the end?

I have a colleague who always reads the end first then only reads the rest of the book if she likes how it ends. I just don’t get that. I would never read the last page before even starting the book!

Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink or interesting aside?

Hmm, I don’t think it’s a waste of paper necessarily but some of them are so long. If it’s like a little paragraph I might read it, but an entire page just listing random people? Eh, no thanks.

Which book character would you switch places with?

Lucy from the Narnia books. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but when I was little I was convinced Narnia was a real place and I was desperate to go there.

Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (place, time, person)?

The Chalet School books remind me of my grandma’s house because that’s where I fist discovered them – one of my aunts had left a couple there from when she read them as a child and I found them one visit and devoured them. My grandma then let me keep and thus my collection was born. I have most of them now but there are still gaps. Also, Agatha Christie reminds me of my step-mum but that’s mostly because I inherited her collection. I never actually discussed them with her when she was alive or anything. They’re currently all in boxes at my dad’s house but I will get them over here one day.

Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

My dad used to work for a recycling plant, specifically on the belt sorting the stuff that could actually be recycled from everything else – you wouldn’t believe the crap people put in their recycling bins! And I don’t just mean as in “yes pizza boxes are theoretically cardboard but we don’t recycle things that are covered in grease and old cheese”. There are people out there who just use them as an extra rubbish bin – many dirty nappies came down the belt and my dad once told a story of a dead rabbit in a carrier bag. Like, what? Anywaaaay… many, many people throw their unwanted books in the recycling bin (😢😢) and my dad “rescued” tonnes of them from the belt. I got my pick of which ones I wanted. Going Postal by Terry Pratchett and Bridget Jones’s Diary are two I remember. Some were in not the best condition but others you could barely tell had been thrown away.

Have you ever given a book away for a special reason/to a special person?

I… don’t know? I give people books all the time. Almost everyone gets books from me for Christmas and birthdays. But for a special reason? Not sure. I was planning to give Jan Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada last Christmas as a silly joke present, but since there were no babies there was also no book.

Which book has been with you to the most places?

Presumably any of my childhood books that moved with us while we were in the army. Ooh, I’ve just remembered I have these two personalised books my grandparents got me – “Beverley and Father Christmas on a Sleigh Ride to the Moon” and “The Pussy-Cat’s Picnic” (I’m not 100% sure on the title of the second, but it’s something like that). My address at the time is mentioned in the stories and it’s the one from before me moved to Northern Ireland so those ones. And those should probably have been my answer for question one too. Oh well. Also I know I picked them up from my dad’s last time I was there but I have no memory of unpacking them or putting them anywhere so now I need to figure out what I’ve done with them…

Any ‘required’ reading that you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

I actually liked everything we read in high school. There are a few books other people read in high school that my class never did but I have read since and didn’t particularly enjoy – specifically The Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies, but they don’t count since I didn’t read them in school (and also still don’t like them). Ohh, wait… I hated Andorra by Max Frisch, which we read for A-Level German. I’ve never re-read it though so no idea what I think now.

Used or brand new?

I don’t mind, as long as it’s readable. Most of my books are used – I could never afford to buy all the ones I read brand new. Especially living in Switzerland! And I don’t own a Kindle, mainly because 99.9% of Kindle books on Amazon tell me they’re not available in my country.

Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

My grandma bought Jan four Dan Brown books for Christmas one year so of course I read them all. I liked some better than others. They’re quick reads anyway.

Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

High Fidelity works so much better as a film!

Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

The Chocolat books by Joanne Harris always make me want chocolate. Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier made me crave Indian food. Basically any book that has detailed descriptions of people making delicious food makes me hungry.

Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

I have one good in real-life friend (who also happens to have a blog) always manages to buy me books I’ve a) never heard of and b) end up loving – one of my favourite books of last year was a book from her. I also always get loads of book recommendations from the Show Us Your Books link-up.

Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g. outside of your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

I very surprisingly ended up loving The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. It involves boxing. I could not care less about boxing. But I did very much care about the main character in this book. I would never have even picked it up if it weren’t for the BBC Big Read!

That’s all the questions. If you feel like doing this let me know and I’ll come and have a nosy – I would particularly love to see Kezzie‘s answers to these questions.

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The Guilty Reader Book Tag

bookshelf

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.

10 Books That Have Affected Me

I was tagged on Facebook to lists ten books that have had an impact on me. Actually, the precise instructions on Facebook were: don’t take more than a few minutes or think too hard. They don’t have to be the “right books” or great works of literature, just those that have affected you in some way. Of course, I dutifully listed my books on Facebook. But before that, Angelle had also been tagged for the challenge (except in her version it was 15 books) and chosen to make a blog post of it, complete with explanations. I loved the idea so much that, when I too was tagged, I knew I was going to have to copy Angelle and write my own blog post. Except with ten books, because that’s how many were in my tag…

Here are my ten books (and it was very hard to narrow it down to only ten!). I’m linking the Wikipedia pages for those that have one.

  1. When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson
    I’ve written about this book before, here. I first read this story about a lonely little girl named Anna in primary school, and although I had quite a few friends then, I’d already started to realise I was different to most people so the story really resonated with me. It stuck with me all the way into adulthood, when I finally bought myself a new copy so that I could read it again, and discovered that I still love it.
  2. January’s Child by Jenny Oldfield
    This book is about a 15-year-old girl who is living with a foster family, until said foster family is told they have to either adopt her or put her back into care. The family decide to keep her brother but send her back, whereupon she decides to go on the run until her 16th birthday, when she’ll be able to do as she likes. The story is about everything that happens to her during that year and is utterly heart-breaking. I first read it when I was about 14 and have read it at least once a year since then… and it still makes me cry every time.
  3. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
    I loved Paddington as a child… absolutely loved him! Obviously Winne the Pooh was also a huge part of my childhood, but I think Paddington was my favourite bear. I mean, he his bacon in his briefcase in case he got peckish. How hilarious is that? I recently bought A Bear Called Paddington (no idea what happened to my original copy) so Jan and I could take turns reading it aloud to each other. I’m pleased to report that Jan now loves Paddington too!
  4. The Chalet School series by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer
    These are perhaps not the best written books in the world, and if you tried to read them for the first time as an adult I’m sure you’d quickly get bored and give up in disgust, but this series accompanied me through my childhood from the time I first discovered a few that used to belong to one of my aunts at my grandma’s house. I had finished all the Mallory Towers books, and these new (to me) boarding school books came along at just the right time. I then obsessively got them out of the library one by one until they had no more for me to read. These books are 100% of the reason I wanted to live in Austria… of that’s not having an impact on my life I don’t know what is!
  5. So Much to Tell You by John Marsden
    If you clicked on the link under When Marnie Was There you’ll have seen that I wrote about this book in that post as well. I picked this one up in a charity shop when I was 13 and immediately fell in love with it, despite the fact that it was the first book since Black Beauty that had made me cry real tears. I’ve read it many times since then, but I’ve never forgotten the feeling I had that first time (and yes I still cry every time I read it. I’m sensing a theme here… also, note to The Fault in Our Stars. This is what a sad book looks like for me!)
  6. Reise im August by Gudrun Pausewang (English title: The Final Journey)
    This one is also reviewed in the blog post linked above. This is a children’s book, but I read it as an adult when I did a course about Naziism in children’s literature during my year  abroad. The journey that main character Alice is sent on is to Ausschwitz (not really a spoiler, that much becomes clear about 3 pages into the book), and as you can imagine it’s a powerful and devastating story. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be affected by this book!
  7. Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells
    I read this book in English class at secondary school and later bought a copy of my own so I could read it again. This is a distopian children’s novel set England at a time after a nucelar attack. The majority of the adults were killed in the attack or disappeared afterwards, leaving the children to fend for themselves. I think you can understand why this book affected me! Also, towards the end of the book, something happens that makes me cry, even though I know it’s coming.
  8. P.S: I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
    I don’t think I need to explain this story.. surely everyone knows it by now? (The film is nowhere near as good, by the way!). What can I say… I’m as soppy as the next girl and the idea of a dying man writing a letter to his wife for every single month of the year following his death makes me feel both happy (because of the romance) and very, very sad (because he’s obviously dead and doesn’t even get to see the results of his actions). Also, it’s a cancer story and cancer stories are always sad.
  9. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
    I could have listed a number of other Pratchett books here, but there’s something about the glimpse into the life of Sam Vimes as a young man and the insights into the bonds between some of the older characters in the Ankh Morpork/City Watch books (Vimes, Fred Colon, Lord Vetinary, Nobby Nobs, Reg Shoe) that just somehow gets me. I mean the lilac guys. And the spoon! “How do they rise up, rise up, rise up?
  10. Haunting by James Herbert
    This was the first “adult” horror book I read (after devouring the Point Horror books all through my teens). I stole it from my mum’s bookshelf, read the whole thing in a single sitting then had nightmares for about the next four nights. I was only about 12 and I found it terrifying, but also amazing. I’ve been a fan of James Herbert ever since (and was genuninely sad to hear of his death last year at the age of 69).

So, that’s my ten. Books that narrowly avoided making the cut included the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary, Clocks by Agatha Christie (the first “adult” book I was given permission to read), Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (the first book I can remember making me cry) and Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (I think her only adult novel, and another book that made me cry… told you there was theme!). I’m not going to tag anybody here (I already did that on Facebook), but if you would like to join in I would love to see how your version compares to mine… and maybe get ideas for a few more books to read 🙂 Also, I apologise for my overuse of both exclamation marks and brackets in this post. It just seemed appropriate…

Summer Reading Challenge: Month 2

BooksI am going to start telling you all about Vienna soon, but right now it’s the start of a new month and time to check in with the Summer 2014 Book Challenge over at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. I’ve been useless at writing reviews recently, but I have been reading and I’ve managed to complete another four categories of the challenge.

As a reminder, here is my check-in post from last month: The Summer Reading Challenge: Month 1 when I completed 5 categories for 90 points.
And now here’s what I read in June 2014:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long.
The Night She Disappeared by April Henry– 229 pages. I have no idea how I came across this book, but I’m glad I did. I do want to write a proper review on it, so I won’t say too much here, but basically it’s a young adult mystery/thriller/crime novel. Having swapped shifts with co-worker Gabie, Kayla goes out to deliver a pizza and never comes back. When Gabie finds out that the caller originally asked for her, she’s plagued with guilt and, convinced Kayla is still alive, becomes determined to find her. I really enjoyed this book and though April Henry did an excellent job of getting inside the teenage characters’ minds. The various emotions they went through (guilt, fear, etc.) all rang true. You even got the occasional glimpse into the kidnapper’s thoughts, which was pretty creepy. This was a short read, but a good one. I’m just sorry it wasn’t around when I was a teenager! 5 stars (rating books is difficult! I really want to give it 4.5, so I’m rounding it up…).

15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times’ Best Sellers List.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – 313 pages. I had to change my book for this category because the one I had originally intended to read was no longer on the best seller’s list by the time I got round to it. The Fault in Our Stars in at number 1 in “Young Adult”. I’m just assuming any category of the best seller list counts to get the points! And now, to the book…

The way everyone’s been raving about it, I expected to love this book, but I’m afraid I didn’t. I liked it, I read it all in one sitting and, of course, I cried…. but nowhere near as much as I was expecting to. I cried a lot more at P.S. I Love You! I did like Hazel. She was occasionally mean, argued with her parents, and you could feel her desire to be a normal teenager shining through. Gus, on the other hand, was way too perfect. Always knowing exactly what to do and say in every situation. He just didn’t feel real to me, and I couldn’t identify with him (okay, I’ve never had cancer, but I have been a teenager and I have been in love… I should have been able to relate to him on some level). It’s still a good book, but despite what everyone else thinks I’m afraid, for me, it just isn’t a great book. 3 stars.

15 points: Read a historical fiction book  that does not take place in Europe.
Peony in Love by Lisa See – 387 pages. I LOVED Snowflower and the Secret Fan by the same author, so I was really excited to read this book. Sadly I ended up being very, very disappointed. I am planning to write a full review of this one at some point so I won’t say much here, but let’s just say it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I wanted to get an insight into Chinese history and customs (as I had from the other book), instead I got a few glimpses into Chinese culture but mostly a weird teen love story.  2 stars for this one.

15 points: Read a book another blogger has read for the challenge.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks by Mary Norton – 189 pages. There were a few books other partcipants had read that I found interesting, so I decided to order a few and see which arrived first… this one was the winner. The copy I read was actually a compilation of two books: The Magic Bedknob and Bonfires and Broomsticks. The first omnibus edition (released in 1967) was called Bed-Knob and Broomstick, but I got the newer copy which was named after the Disney Film. Before I saw this title on the first check on for the challenge, I had no idea that the Disney film was based on a book… let alone one by the author of The Borrowers, one of my childhood favourites! I got very excited and had to order a copy straight away. The book is actually completely different to the film, and this is one of very few instances where I actually liked the film better (although it’s an unfair comparison because the only things the film seems to have taken from the book are the idea of three children meeting a witch and getting an enchanted bedknob that then causes their bed to fly). The war effort is a big theme in the film, whereas it isn’t even mentioned in the book. The children do wonder at one point whether it would be fair to use magic in wartime, and Carey (the eldest) has the idea that magic could be used to help with the war, but is promptly shushed with a warning about everything that could go wrong (“imagine if all the soldiers were turned to white mice!”). Generally, the book is a bit of a mixed bag. There are some good parts, but the first book seems to end rather suddenly before it really gets going. I would have liked one more adventure! It is a children’s book though, so maybe the author was thinking of short attention spans. There’s more action in the second book, and a bit of a gentle history lesson 😉 Overall, this a fun little read with some interesting characters (I liked everyone but Charles, the middle child, who was boring and a bit flat – probably because his sister and brother got all the good lines – Paul was the only one who could work the magic bedknob and Carey makes all the decisions and isn’t afraid to stand up to the adults in the book). I think I would have liked it better if I’d actually read it as a child though… the “scary bits” just aren’t as scary when you’re in your 30s! Also, this book was published before The Borrowers (1943/1945 for the Bedknobs books vs. 1952 for The Borrowers) and I would venture to say that Mary Norton’s writing improved somewhat in that time. From what I remember, The Borrower’s was better written. I’ll still give this one 4 stars though. If you’re interested, here’s the review by the blogger who inspired me to read this book (click on the purple writing).

So, that’s 50 points for month two of the challenge. Added to last month’s 90, that makes a total of 140 points. I still have 3 categories to complete: A book I failed to finish the first time I read it, a book by a blogger (I’m waiting for this one to arrive) and a biography/autobiography/memoir (I’m almost finished!).

Summer 2014 Reading Challenge

**Apologies for the two posts in one day thing. I didn’t know about this when I wrote the first one, and I really want to join in with this challenge**

As you may know (or some newer readers may not), I love to read. As a child, my mum would take us to the library every weekend to pick up books and I would have ready my pile before the day was out. Yes, I was that child who would rather be indoors reading that out with my friends (although I was still outside a lot because if the weather was even vaguely nicer, my mother would hound us out of the house. I was always allowed to read for a bit before going to sleep though, so I still got my book fix). So, when I read on Amanda’s blog, Rhyme and Ribbons, that she plans to take part in a reading challenge organised by another blogger this summer, I immediately wanted to join in too. Because all the book reading I’ve got going on for my 35 before 35 list clearly isn’t enough…

The challenge runs from 1 May 2014 until 31 August 2014, with only books read during that time being allowed to count. All the books have to be at least 200 pages long and there are 12 categories that need to be fulfilled to complete the challenge.

Here are the categories, and my book choices:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, because it’s been on my list for way too long now!

10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born.
Flowers for Algernon by David Keyes (published 1966) if I can get it – I’m not finding it on Amazon Germany.  If not, I’ll go with Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (published 1967).

10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn’t finish the first time around. (You must have at least 150 pages left in the book.)
The 1312 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers. Jan and I started reading this book years ago but we never actually managed to finish. Time to try again! (The first one that came to mind was The Silmarillion, but I’m convinced it’s not even possible to finish that book!).

10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of a library or bookstore.
I read children’s books allll the time, well young adult literature anyway, which I assume is in the children’s section at the library? But here’s one from my Amazon wishlist: The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root by Christopher Pennell. It claims to have 224 pages and be for ages 9-12, so it’s perfect for the challenge.

15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times’ Best Sellers List.
Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway. I like a good crime novel and having lived in Northern Ireland as a child, I’m intrigued by the idea of a book that’s set there. (I just hope it will actually have 200 pages seeing as it doesn’t even seem to be available on Amazon Germany yet…)

15 points: Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe.
Hmm, I’ll have to find one first!

 15 points: Read a book another blogger has read for the challenge. (That means you have to wait till the first check in in June to see what other people have read already.)
Ooh, I’m excited to see what others recommend!

20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s),” or “child(ren)” in the title.
The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers has been on my list for ages! Perfect opportunity to finally read it.

 20 points: Read a book that will be/was adapted into a film in 2014.
Errm, I’m hopeless with films so first I’ll have to discover what’s even coming up this year!

25 points: Read a book by a blogger.
I can’t think of any! Suggestions?

 25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir.
Captain James Cook by Richard Hough. And it’s non-fiction so I get to count it towards my 35 before 35, too!

30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the title.
Oooh, this is hard! I’ll let you know when I think of something…

The challenge is being hosted by Megan at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. I know it’s 1 May is tomorrow  (I only found out about this today!), but I’m sure there’s still time for you to join in if you’re quick! You can also follow along on Twitter via the hashtag #SCSBC14.