Wednesday, 28 November 2012

2013 TBR Pile Challenge & Book Buying Ban

This year I’ve decided to sign up for Adams' TBR Pile Challenge. In 2012 I’ve been entirely unsuccessful with the Mount TBR Challenge, but this challenge requires me to read fewer titles, and coupled with my annual renewing of my book buying ban (see below), it seemed worth a go!

 Here’s my list:
  1. True Grit by Charles Portiss 
  2.  Eternals by Neil Gaiman
  3. Till We Have Faces by C.S Lewis
  4. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  5. The Odyssey – Homer
  6. The Outsiders – S.E Hinton
  7. The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors – Michele Young – Stone
  8. Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovich
  9. The Clan of the Cave Bear – Jean M. Auel
  10. The Phantom Tolbooth – Norton Juster
  11. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
  12. The Merlin Conspiracy – Dianna Wynne Jones.

And in case one of the books on the list disagrees with me, my alternate is Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson.

As mentioned above, I plan to reinstate my book buying ban in 2013, with the added incentive of the last three months of my maternity leave being unpaid and so needing to save as much as possible in the first four months of the year! Exceptions to the ban are if people get me gift cards for birthdays or whatever then I’m allowed to buy books. Ditto with money given as a gift. I’m not actively using ReaditSwapit at the moment, as I decided the other day that the 90 odd books I had listed on there had been sitting around the house getting in the way for way too long so I took them all to the charity shop! However, if I do start using it again this year, I’m only allowed one swap a month, and all other books I want to read must be received as gifts, or borrowed from family and friends or the library.
In 2011 I went three whole months without buying a single book. This year I lasted about a week. Wish me luck for 2013....

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Peaches for Monsieur le Cure by Joanne Harris

I've been excited about Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure ever since I heard it mentioned on Twitter months ago. Joanne Harris is a big favourite of mine and the most exciting thing about this book for me is that it's a sequel to Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes, both of which I really really enjoyed. Centering around Vianne Rocher and her children Anouk and Rosette, the priest of the title is Father Francis Reynaud, who was pretty much Vianne's nemesis in Chocolat. In the novel Vianne returns to Lansquennet, the setting of Chocolat, following a letter from an old friend, and finds the village very different. The old villagers, many of them familiar characters to readers of Chocolat, feel threatened by the growth of the Muslim community, and especially by the arrival of a mysterious and enigmatic woman. 

It's not going to be surprising that I loved this book. Although similar in tone to its' prequels, Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure is more mature in many ways. Whereas in the previous two novels Vianne was very unsettled; always ready to move on and run away at the slightest hint of threat, here she is the one returning to a place where she once was happy, wondering if it could become home again. And she is once again being called on to fix certain situations. There was less magic in this novel than in the previous two, and less chocolate, and I did miss both but not to an extent that really affected my enjoyment of the book. The character of Vianne in the novels draws people to want to be around her, and she does the same with me as a reader. She is a character that I always want to know more about. Because so little of her backstory is ever revealed I continually feel that there's more to be discovered. I also loved how Harris took a character (in the priest) whom I had disliked quite strongly in Chocolat and made him pretty much the hero of the novel. It takes quite a bit for me to change my mind about a character, but I really did in this case. I kind of loved him by the end. 

Basically this is very incoherent and a bit of a babble, but it's the first review I've written since baby having and I still have a serious case of baby brain. Also my every move is haunted by jumping at the slightest sound and worrying about how much time I have before the baby wakes up.... But I miss blogging a lot and I always promised myself I wouldn't let the baby make me give up altogether, so there we go. Seriously shortened and slightly incoherent review, but it's still a review! 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Challenge Update: Where I am now is pretty much all I can hope to achieve this year...

I've started to see 2013 challenge posts springing up all over the place and it reminded me that I have probably dismally failed at most of the challenges I signed up for this year!    I thought it was probably time that I worked out exactly how much I've failed and whether or not it's actually worth signing up for any challenges at all next year. I'm also trying to decide whether or not it's worth running the Telling Tales Challenge again next year. I've really enjoyed it this year, and I know there are a few people who've been really consistent with it throughout, so let me know your thoughts! 

Aaaaanyway (and this will be a pretty long post probably), here goes...

2012 Mount TBR Challenge - signed up to read 25 books I already owned. Finished 12 and started another 3 (Anything Goes, North and South and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell) which I never managed to finish...

50 States Challenge - the most ambitious challenge I signed up for, I knew reading 50 books for one challenge would be.. well, challenging, but then I also didn't bank on getting pregnant and associated baby having, so I think it's ok that I've failed at this one, and I plan to sign up again next year purely because it was a lot of fun finding books to fit the states and I've read some great stuff. Stats as of now are thus: finished 8, started another 2 which I didn't finish (The Grapes of Wrath due to baby having, and This Side of Paradise which I have no idea why I haven't finished). 

A Classics Challenge - I feel bad about failing this one. It was a really interesting challenge and I only had to read seven books, so it's particularly pathetic that I only managed two, but on the plus side one of them was The Tenant of Wildfell Hall which is one of the greatest classics ever. 

New Author Challenge - break out the champagne because... I have actually completed this challenge!!! I signed up to read 25 authors I'd never read before and ended up reading 37! Admittedly I haven't reviewed even half of them but still, proud that I've managed to complete at least one of the things I committed to!

Mixing It Up Challenge - I aimed to read 13-15 for Ellie's awesome challenge. So far I've read 10, reviewed 2, started one (Anything Goes, again. It's not that it wasn't read, I just have some kind of mental block against non-fiction at the moment), and One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson I started reading and then realised that it was all incredibly familiar because the TV series of Case Histories was based on the first two books, so I stopped reading it.

Reading Shakespeare: a Play a Month in 2012 - this is my second most epic fail of the year. I read A Midsummer Night's Dream  in January and... that's it. I really meant to keep up with it, but I entirely failed :-/

Support Your Local Library Challenge - I signed up to read 37 and currently stand at 24. I may finish this by the end of the year as I'm trying to use the library for pretty much all my reading at the moment. 

Narnia Reading Challenge - I have so far only read The Magician's Nephew, but I might read the rest in December as they would all be re-reads and fairly quick. We'll see how it goes with the baby stuff...

The Telling Tales Challenge - this is my own challenge so I really have no excuses. I signed up to read 15 books in the fairytale/mythology genre and I've currently read 14. I've reviewed nowhere near all of them, but I am planning to read Kissing the Witch:Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donoghue in December, so I'll have completed it. I have however failed in my attempt to read 5 classics in the genre :-( 

Those Books I Should Have Read - signed up to read 6. Read A Christmas Carol and started The Satanic Verses but it didn't grab me. So basically another epic fail...

The Graphic Novel Challenge - Another year, another completed graphic novel challenge. I am hoping to get all my outstanding reviews written in the remainder of the year, but completion required 12 graphic novels and I've read 13, all of which were awesome. 

There are two spectacular failures of 2012, in that I signed up for them but haven't read a single thing towards them. The Les Miserables readalong and the Get Steampunked Challenge. Although I wish I'd done better, I know (and knew at the beginning of the year!) that I'd taken on too much in terms of challenges. It didn't stop me and in all honesty it probably won't stop me for 2013 either, although I do plan to hold back a bit...

The only plans I have so far for 2013 are that I would love to host the Telling Tales Challenge again, if anyone's interested in doing it, and I'd really like to do a challenge to make me read more YA. Also I'll probably sign up for the graphic novel challenge again, because it gives me an excuse to buy graphic novels. Excellent. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like....

Halloween is over. Bonfire Night is over. By my own personal criteria it's time to talk about Christmas! I seriously love and adore Christmas, it's been my favourite time of year since I was a kid, and I'm one of those people who truly thinks homemade gifts are the coolest thing EVER. I also really love Christmas shopping and all the quirky awesomeness to be discovered in charity shops, craft markets and school fairs. Do I sound crazy yet? Seriously though, I love crafting and thrift and giving gifts - Christmas is my time!!

This year will be Benji's first Christmas and I'm so excited. Obviously this year he'll be too young for making cards and crackers, days and days of baking, decorating the tree, the super lame concert my mum makes us all do after dinner on Christmas Eve, and even to really appreciate his presents (which is a shame as my sister is making him MINI HARRY POTTER ROBES. This may be the coolest thing ever), but he will love all the colours and the noises. He adores music so I'm hoping he'll be into all the carols and he'll be passed around so many relatives and have so many cuddles he won't know what to do.

I think I'm getting over excited now, so I'll stop talking about all the awesome things which will happen, and move onto a blog related awesome thing. Last year I participated in the Persephone Secret Santa, which was brilliant. This year I decided I wanted to do something a little different, so I signed up for The Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa. I just got my person today and I am really excited to start shopping for them. All kinds of gifts are brilliant, but secret ones are even better, and ones from people who appreciate how much you adore books are the best of all. My family are pretty great in that respect too, so I'm anticipating lots of Waterstone's gift cards :-D

Also, for participants of The Telling Tales Challenge, I will be entering everybody who has a review linked up on the master list into a giveaway in December, so if you haven't yet sent me your review links, you can do so here!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

I'm Still Alive!! (and I've been reading..)

I'm stealing a moment while the baby's asleep (briefly) to post here. I miss blogging SO MUCH, but there just isn't the time at the moment. Benji's been having an awkward few days -he has a bit of a cold/virus type thing so he's been ridiculously clingy and eating like all the time. I literally have barely been able to put him down the past few days! I'm still reading people's posts and trying to comment as much as usual but often I'm distracted half way through writing a comment by crying/the need to eat/nap/put stuff in the steriliser/washing machine/tumble dryer/clean the house before the baby wakes up!

Anyway, quick update on what I've read since he arrived, as I've been able to do more reading than I thought I would due to the incessant feeding thing! I'll also probably never get around to writing proper reviews, so here's a quick summary!

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch
I think I've mentioned this already. I ordered it from the library and it arrived about two days before Benji did. I really enjoyed it, although it wasn't what I was expecting in terms of bookishness. It was beautifully written though and had some lovely thoughts on literature and life. Gone on my favourites list. 

Last Christmas by Julia Williams 
Picked this up from the library because it looked like a fun, quick read. It was, and it was 'heartwarming' and made me feel happy, despite my hatred of the word heartwarming....

The Pi**ed Off Parents Club by Mink Elliot
Again grabbed this from the library because it was on the stand just inside the door and I think I've mentioned my obsession with books with the word 'club' in the title. So much of an obsession that I actually made a list on Goodreads of these books... Anyway, it was again an easy ready, and pretty enjoyable. 

The Politically Incorrect Parenting Book by Nigel Latta
I haven't quite finished this yet, but I WILL be writing a proper review of it at some point (who knows when though), as it is brilliant. I don't like parenting books in general because I think they're ridiculously prescriptive, and honestly, why do parenting 'experts' not realise that all babies are not the same??! But this guy does. He really really does, and he makes you feel like you're not a total moron for not knowing anything. Brilliant.

Some other things I'm in the middle of/waiting for at the moment:

Commencement by J. Courteney Sullivan - after loving and adoring Maine a few months ago, I finally got hold of Sullivan's first novel and am halfway through at the moment. Loving it so far. 

A Life's Work by Rachel Cusk - arrived today from swap and I've read the introduction so far. The book is apparently 'controversial', and Cusk was accussed by some of not loving her children enough and being an unfit mother after writing this memoir of her experience of motherhood, so I'm intrigued to read it... 

Peaches for Monsieur le Cure by Joanne Harris - I'm waiting for this from the library and I'm really excited about it. I love Harris, and Chocolat and The Lollipop Shoes are some of my favourite books. Also my mum read it and says it absolutely brilliant, so there's that. 

Moranthology by Caitlin Moran - also waiting for this from the library. Despite some differing opinions on this, I'm still really adoring Caitlin Moran in a serious hero worship kind of way, and I'm really looking forward to reading it. 

So that's that. And here's a picture of Mr. Cuteness himself so you'll all go 'awwww' and forgive my absence...

Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Telling Tales Challenge November Link up!

I can't believe it's November already! Time has gone ridiculously quickly this year, and the last three weeks have whizzed by. This is late because (for those who don't know) I had my little baby boy almost exactly three weeks ago, and life has been a bit of a blur since then! Because of that I've not managed to do much reading this month, and am still in the middle of The Annotated Brothers Grimm. Not sure when I'll finish it but I also finally succumbed and bought Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins which I've wanted pretty much forever so I'm really excited to start that! 

I hope everybody's still going strong and enjoying their reading! :-) 

As ever, the master list is here if you want to check out what everybody's been reading or are looking for inspiration. 
And if you feel like signing up for the last two months of the year, you can do so here.