Summer Reading Challenge: Not From Around Here

Another instalment of the Summer Reading Challenge. I am slowly getting a list assembled and I am really looking forward to reading all these new books over the summer.

The List so far:-

Good as Gold:- The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

The Book is Better:- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Short and Sweet:- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

On the Bandwagon:- The handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood

Actually Want to Read:- Jaws by Peter Benchley

 

The next prompt is Not from around here:- Read a book set in a different culture from your own. This one I must admit I am rather struggling with but I have tried to come up with a few ideas.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.

 

 

 

 

 

A strong contender as I do enjoy the work of Khaled Hosseini.

 

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

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A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan’s most celebrated geisha.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl’s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction – at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful – and completely unforgettable.

 

 

A returner to the line up as this has already been on the list of possibles. Maybe it is a sign to definitely read the book.

 

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

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The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

 

 

 

This has been highly recommended to me by several family members so I do believe I should give it a read.

 

I’m sticking with just the three options. If anybody has any recommendations please drop me a message.

Happy reading.

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Summer Reading Challenge: Actually Want to Read

Well everyone, will this rain ever stop?

All I want to do this gloomy Saturday is curl up with a mug of tea and a good book, however the house work has been calling. But I have taken a break to work out another book to read for the Summer Reading Challenge.

This prompt is: Actually want to read: read a book that has been on your Want To Read Shelf for more than a year. 

My Want to Read shelf on Goodreads started in 2012 so there are rather a lot of books to choose from.

I have decided to pick one from each year and choose from there.

2012: The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas

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In the dark recesses of the Bastille, a young prisoner known only as Phillipe has spent eight years of his short life. When Aramis, posing as his confessor, bribes his way into the prison, the truth about the man’s identity is brought to light. It is a secret which, if revealed, could bring down the King of France, Louis XIV, whose corrupt rule is destroying the well-being of his country.

The ensuing jailbreak and the consequent struggle for power brings the musketeers into swashbuckling action, taking us back to the days of chivalry and making The Man in the Iron Mask one of the most enthralling historical romances in literature.

I love Dumas so would be very happy to read this book over the summer, but it is very weighty and maybe be a bit on the long side for a summer read.

2013: The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

15849910The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.

One of the rare Gregory novels I have not read, a definite contender.

2014: Jaws by Peter Benchley

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Smashing together, they crush bones and flesh and organs into jelly.

The jaws of a giant killer shark that terrorizes a small holiday resort on Long Island.

Private feuds, lusts and jealousies take second place to a relentless duel, almost unbearable in its suspense and danger…

 

 

 

 

What a good book to read on the beach? I must admit I do want to go snorkeling whilst away, but this might make me change my mind.

2015: The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien

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1382. Daughter of John of Gaunt, sister to the future King Henry IV, Elizabeth of Lancaster has learned the shrewd tricks of the court from England’s most powerful men. In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything. A Plantagenet princess should never defy her father’s wishes. Yet headstrong Elizabeth refuses to bow to the fate of a strategic marriage. Rejecting her duty, Elizabeth weds the charming and ruthlessly ambitious Sir John Holland: Duke of Exeter, half-brother to King Richard II and the one man she has always wanted. But defiance can come at a price. 1399. Elizabeth’s brother Henry has seized the throne. Her husband, confident to the usurped Richard, masterminds a secret plot against the new King. Trapped in a dangerous web, Elizabeth must make a choice. Defy the King and betray her family. Or condemn her husband and send him to his death. Sister. Wife. Traitor. She holds the fate of England in her hands.

I have owned this book for a very long time. I met the author and had it signed when I bought it. Anne O’Brien was taking part in a book day at Berrington Hall a National Trust property and she was a lovely lady who I had a very long chat with.

2016: While you were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

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Yesterday your life was perfect. Today you’ll find out that was all a lie.

Tara Logan adores her perfect little family: husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her happiness is shattered when she wakes up one morning in her neighbour’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them. And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee and scared of losing everything she cares about, Tara flees home and stays silent, holding her breath as the investigation grips the neighbourhood.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara starts to wonder if someone in her life knows what really happened that night. When the police turn their questions towards her, Tara realises she has to find out.

But what will it take to uncover the real story, and can she survive the truth?

This has been sat on my Kindle for far too long and needs to be read.

2017: Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

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Yvonne Carmichael has worked hard to achieve the life she always wanted: a high-flying career in genetics, a beautiful home, a good relationship with her husband and their two grown-up children.

Then one day she meets a stranger at the Houses of Parliament and, on impulse, begins a passionate affair with him – a decision that will put everything she values at risk.

At first she believes she can keep the relationship separate from the rest of her life, but she can’t control what happens next. All of her careful plans spiral into greater deceit and, eventually, a life-changing act of violence.

Apple Tree Yard is a psychological thriller about one woman’s adultery and an insightful examination of the values we live by and the choices we make, from an acclaimed writer at the height of her powers.

This book has been sat on my bookshelf for way too long and another strong contender.

2018: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

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At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

I won this book on a Goodreads giveaway at the beginning of 2018 and it has been sat on my TBR shelf ever since. Really like the sound of the storyline and was very pleased to win the book.

 

So that is my list to choose from, I will have a good think and see what I come up with. If anybody has any advice about the books it would be gratefully received.

The List so Far:-

Good as Gold:- The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling

The Book is Better: – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Short and Sweet:- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

On the Bandwagon:- The Handmaid’s Tale

 

Happy reading!

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Summer Reading Challenge: On the Bandwagon

Hello my fellow Book Dragons!

I am currently sat here listening to the rain, waiting for the BT engineer to come and fix our internet, as the BT engineer who was working in our road yesterday very kindly gave us somebody else’s phone line and we lost our lovely fibre broadband. Thankfully, I can use all my lovely phone data to blog with.

Summer is fast approaching and I still haven’t planned my reading list for the challenge. The challenge will start on the 21st June and finish on 23rd September 2019, also if by any chance I finish the beginner list early I will try and do some of the expert level reading prompts.

The chosen books so far:-

Good as Gold:- The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

The Book is Better:- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Short and Sweet:- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

 

Just another 9 books to choose!

This prompt, On the Bandwagon, is to read one of the ‘most read’ books right now on Goodreads.

I have been having a look at the list and have chosen two likely targets that appeal to me.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

 

This has been on my TBR pile for a very long time and to honest is a very strong contender.

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

Another strong contender that has been on my TBR pile for way too long. This is going to be hard choice I feel.

 

To be honest looking at the list these are the only two that jump out at me, the others I have either read or just do not fancy reading. Hopefully only having two to choose from will make the choice easier. I am really starting to look forward to this challenge, I just hope I can stay on track and complete it.

Please let me know your thoughts on the two books and help me decide.

Happy reading.

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Summer Reading Challenge: Short and Sweet

I have suddenly realised that my Summer Reading is fast approaching and I have not yet decided on all the books I will reading.

I still have not decided on The Book is Better but hopefully will have that decided this week.

This book prompt Short and Sweet: Read a book with less than 100 pages, I’m not entirely sure on as I could read any of my little Penguin black books in one session. However, I have decided to check out some other options as well to see what else might be about.

157993Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.

 

 

 

 

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First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike

 

 

 

 

 

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A very young woman’s first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate…An estate haunted by a beckoning evil.

Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls…

But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil.

For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.

 

These are a few thoughts so far. I will have a good think and work out what I might like to read in one sitting. I’m starting the challenge on 21st June the first day of summer.

Any thoughts please drop me a comment.

Happy Reading!

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Summer Reading Challenge: The Book is Better

Well it is back to planning my books for the reading challenge. I have decided I’m going to try not to read books I have read before but go for all new reads.

I have chosen The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling for the first prompt Good as Gold. 

The prompt I have to work with next is The Book is Better: Read a book that is being adapted for film or TV this year.

So I have been having a little look around and have come up with a few options to mull over. They are as follows:-

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

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Hamburg, 1946. Thousands remain displaced in what is now the British Occupied Zone. Charged with overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city and the de-Nazification of its defeated people, Colonel Lewis Morgan is requisitioned a fine house on the banks of the Elbe, where he will be joined by his grieving wife, Rachael, and only remaining son, Edmund.

But rather than force its owners, a German widower and his traumatized daughter, to leave their home, Lewis insists that the two families live together. In this charged and claustrophobic atmosphere all must confront their true selves as enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.

 

Where’s You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

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When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.

 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

 

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

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Roy is a conman living in a small English town, about to pull off his final con. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman and slip away with her life savings. But who is the man behind the con? What has he had to do to survive a life of lies? And who has had to pay the price?

When Roy meets a wealthy widow online, he can hardly believe his luck. Just like Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, Roy is a man who lives to deceive—and everything about Betty suggests she’s an easy mark. He’s confident that his scheme to swindle her will be a success. After all, he’s done this before.

Sure enough, Betty soon lets Roy move into her beautiful home, seemingly blind to the web of lies he’s woven around her. But who is Roy, really? Spanning almost a century, this stunning and suspenseful feat of storytelling interweaves the present with the past. As the clock turns back and the years fall away, long-hidden secrets are forced into the light. Some things can never be forgotten. Or forgiven.

 

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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The novel is set during World War II, from 1942 to 1944. It mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home.

 

 

 

So these are my options to mull over and decide what I would like to choose, to be honest I want to read them all and have put them on my TBR list but I need to choose one for my challenge.

Any help would be most welcome, please feel free to let me know your preferences.

Happy reading.

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Summer Reading Challenge: Good as Gold

Hello everyone.

I hope you all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend.

I am now trying to work out what books to read for my first ever reading challenge The Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge: Beginner level and today I am looking at the prompt Good as Gold. This means a book that has won the Goodreads Choice Award, so I have had a look at the options and come up with two winners that take my fancy. I have discarded the winners that I have already read because I want to read new books. I must admit every year I vote in the choice awards and my choices have never won. I also find not many of the books I read are nominated, perhaps I just don’t read the right books.

2012 Winner

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When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

 

2013 Winner

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So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one…Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled. One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand. Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

 

These are the two books I have chosen out of the winners and now I just have to decide which one to go for. I own ‘The Casual Vacancy’ so that is one advantage but I don’t mind buying ‘And The Mountains Echoed’. I love both authors but I am a bit worried about ‘And The Mountains Echoed’ as Khaled Hosseini can be a rather sad read and I’m not sure I want to be crying whilst on holiday. 

I would be happy to hear your thoughts on the two books, as I would love to have some help with my choice.

Happy reading!

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Goodreads Summer Reading Challenge

Hello my fellow Book Dragons!

I have a confession to make.

I have never done a reading challenge before, other than setting myself a certain number of books to read every year on Goodreads. So this year I have decided to give this a go as I have a very long flight coming up in the summer to go on my holibobs and sadly come home back to work. Will also probably be doing quite a bit of reading whilst on holiday as we have a beach right next to our hotel.

There are two challenges, the beginner one and the expert level one. I will be sticking with the beginner one as it is my first challenge and do not want to set myself up for a fall.

The Beginner Challenge has the following prompts:-

  •  Good as gold: Read a book that won a Goodreads Choice Award.
  •  The book is better: Read a book being adapted for TV or film this year.
  •  Short & sweet: Read a book with less than 100 pages (or a book you can finish in one sitting).
  •  On the bandwagon: Read one of the “most read” books right now on Goodreads.
  •  Actually want to read: Read a book that’s been on your Want to Read shelf for more than a year.
  •  Not from around here: Read a book set in a different culture from your own.
  •  In the friend zone: Read a book that a friend has recommended.
  •  It takes two: Read a coauthored book.
  •  Wheel of format: Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read in (a graphic novel, poetry, a play,
    an audiobook, etc.).
  •  New voices: Read a debut novel.
  •  Past love: Reread a book you loved when you were younger.
  •  Armchair traveler: Read a book set in a destination you want to visit.

I must admit I am excited to start the challenge and also rather nervous, I really want to complete the challenge and not let myself down. The first day of summer is Friday 21st June but I am not entirely sure I can wait that long to start but I will try, I will plan my books to read on the run up. I think I will most likely do most of this challenge whilst on holiday, the question is do I do the challenge in order?

I would love to hear about the reading challenges my fellow book dragons have completed or attempted, please let me know. Also any advice would be most welcome on my challenge.

I will keep you posted.

Happy Reading and have a glorious bank holiday weekend.