Saturday 12 November 2016

Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge

Flushed with success from finishing the last Semi-Charmed Book Challenge with a month to spare, I’m excited to be taking part in the Winter 2016 one.  Here are my preliminary choices:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long.

TBC from the huge pile of books I have beside my bed...

10 points: Read a 2016 finalist (longlist or shortlist) for one of the following literary prizes: National Book AwardMan Booker or Man Booker International.

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnett (280 pages) - a shortlist finalist for the Man Booker and donated to me by my sister

10 points: Read a brand-new release (something published between November 1, 2016, and January 31, 2017).

The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane (260 pages) - published 1st December

15 points: Read a book by an author of a different race or religion than you.

Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu (288 pages) - a Chinese author

15 points: Read a book featuring a main character who is of a different race or religion than you.

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche (248 pages) featuring main character Giselle who is Rwandan

20 points: Read a modern retelling of a classic (e.g. an Austen Project novel, Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, etc.) — Submitted by SCSBC16 winner Kaity.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (237 pages)

25 points: Read a book with an alcoholic beverage (neat or cocktail) in the title. — Submitted by SCSBC16 winner Kerry. 

Martini Henry by Sara Crowe (416 pages)

30 points: Read a book with a character that shares your first or last name. (Alternate spellings are okay, e.g. Megan and Meghan or Smith and Smyth.) — Submitted by SCSBC16 winner Ericka.

The Recruit by Robert Muchamore (342 pages) featuring character Kerry Chang

30 points: Read two books: a nonfiction book and a fiction book with which it connects. For example: A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie and one of Christie's mystery novels that features poison, or The Monuments Men and All the Light We Cannot See. The possibilities are endless, so have fun with this one! — Submitted by SCSBC16 winner Bev. (And remember you must finish both books to get the 30 points! No partial points will be awarded.)

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (285 pages)
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (322 pages)

40 points: Read two books: one by an author whose first name is the same as the last name of the author of the other book. For example: You may read a book by Martin Cruz Smith and a book by George R.R. Martin, or a book by James Joyce and a book by Joyce Carol Oates. The shared name must be spelled exactly the same, no variations. — Submitted by SCSBC16 winner Jamie. (And remember you must finish both books to get the 40 points! No partial points will be awarded.)

What Would Mary Berry Do? by Claire Sandy (450 pages)
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall (272 pages)

Thursday 13 October 2016

On alcohol and reading...

It was with great pleasure I accepted the invitation to choose a category for the Semi-Charmed Winter Book Challenge 2016!  After (just) finishing in fourth place in the Summer Challenge, I finally achieved a goal I’ve held since summer 2013.  Mostly I have a small boy to thank for it.  His sleeping pattern is so non-existent that many a night our room is illuminated from the glow of a kindle as I try to nurse him back to sleep.
Anyhow, my category is thus:
Read a book with an alcoholic beverage (neat or cocktail) in the title.
And I promised Megan that I’d come up with some suggestions.  Here they are roughly categorised.  While I haven’t read most of them, I’ve linked each one to its goodreads entry – I hope you find something that whets your appetite!
Wine Books

Cider Books

Whiskey/Whiskey Books

Vodka Books

Rum Books

Gin Books

Various Other Drinks

The first five Murder, She Wrote series by Jessica Fletcher are all alcohol based.  I won’t be trying these due to an irrational hatred of Murder, She Wrote, which came about when we first moved to France and it was the only thing on television. Ever.
There also exists a series of Jack Daniels Mysteries by J. A. Konrath, the first six of which are named after famous cocktails.
And you could be sneaky with this one too.  Many words contain the word ‘gin’ – begin, aubergine, avenging, belonging, engineer – or ‘rum’ – crumb, drum, forum, grumble, instrument. My sleep addled brain is probably missing out on many more (and possibly being optimistic that there is a book out there with aubergine in the title).
I don’t think you’ll have any difficulty in finding a book that fits into this category.  My list is by no means exhaustive.  For what it’s worth, I heartily recommend Campari For Breakfast by Sara Crowe which is a beautiful and hilarious novel about a young woman coming of age pursuing her dream to become a writer while living with her aged aunt in a rundown, ramshackle mansion.  I’ll be choosing the sequel, Martini Henry for this category in the challenge.
Thank you, Megan, for hosting another challenge.  Have fun reading and good luck!

Edited: I’ve since been on goodreads and found a huge number of books with aubergine in the title.  Seriously, my category could have been Read a book with the word aubergine in the title and you’d have been spoiled for choice!


Sunday 3 January 2016

Oh, boy...

This is Ross.  Milk drinker, co-sleeper, night waker, poo maker.  And responsible, since his arrival in mid-November, for turning his mother's brain into mush.  So much so that she can't concentrate on any books that require a modicum of thought.  Which is why I sadly need to resign from The Semi-Charmed Winter 2015 Book Challenge. I hope to get round to reading most of the planned books during the year to come, but at the moment I'm happy to indulge in the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.  A guilty pleasure maybe, but a pleasure I can easily partake of in the middle of the night by the light of my kindle.

Saturday 31 October 2015

The Semi-Charmed Winter 2015 Book Challenge

It's almost time (55 minutes to go!) for the Semi-Charmed Winter 2015 Book Challenge.

Here is my preliminary list.  As you can see, I'm quite undecided about one or two categories.  I'm also a little worried that I appear to have favoured books that are somewhat on the long side.  But we shall see how I go, I suppose.  All suggestions and comments are welcome!

5 points: Read a book that has between 100 and 200 pages.

Peter Pan by J M Barrie (176 pages) or The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (150 pages)

10 points: Read a debut book by any author. (The book does not have to be a 2015 debut.)

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (400 pages)

10 points: Read a book that does not take place in your current country of residence.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (392 pages)

10 points: Read a book that someone else has already used for the challenge. — Submitted by SCSBC15 finisher Kristen @ See You in a Porridge[Edited to add: The book must be at least 200 pages long.]

I'm hoping someone else reads The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (386 pages)

15 points: Read a book published under a pseudonym (e.g. Robert Galbraith, Sara Poole, J.D. Robb, Franklin W. Dixon, Mark Twain, etc.). — Submitted by SCSBC15 finisher Megan M.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (455 pages)

15 points: Read a book with “boy,” “girl,” “man” or “woman” in the title (or the plural of these words).

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (224 pages)

15 points: Read a book with a one-word title (e.g. AttachmentsAmericanahUgliesWild, etc.).

Room by Emma Donoghue (321 pages)

20 points: Read a book with a person's first and last name in the title (e.g. The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Story of Edgar Sawtelle).

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (608 pages)

20 points: Read a food-themed book. — Submitted by SCSBC15 finisher Jamie @ Whatever I Think Of!

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (240 pages)

20 points: Read a book with a verb in the title. (For any grammar nerds out there, I mean “verb” in the most general sense, so gerunds count. For non-grammar-inclined people, just use any book that appears to have a verb in the title!)

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (320 pages)

30 points: Read two books with the same title (by different authors). — Submitted by SCSBC15 finisher bevchen @ Confuzzledom[Edited to add: The titles must be the SAME save for alternate spellings. For example, The Alchemist and Alchemist would be two different titles and would not work for the challenge, but The Alchemist and The Alchemyst would work.]

TBC - I'm considering The Lake House by Kate Morton (400 pages) and Helen Phifer (400 pages) or The Innocent by Harlan Coben (503 pages) and Ian McEwan (226 pages) or The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (704 pages) and Rachel Bohlen (317 pages)

30 points: Read a nonfiction book and a fiction book about the same subject (e.g. a biography and historical fiction novel about the same person; two books about a specific war or event; a nonfiction book about autism and a novel with a character who has autism, etc. The possibilities are endless!). [Edited to add: This one is very broad! Just have fun with it!]

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich (236 pages) and All That is Solid Melts Into Air by Darragh McKeon (464 pages)

Friday 7 August 2015


Lemons, destined for a fruit cake.  In one of my favourite bowls.


932 paper cranes - our contribution to my sister's upcoming wedding.

Monday 3 August 2015


Slightly colour enhanced, but my legs are the brownest they have ever been.  And it beats a photo of my peeling skin - a reminder of the day when we spent slightly too long on the beach.