Tag Archives: reading

Stitching and Listening

Regular readers of this blog will know that my love of stitching is only surpassed by my love of reading. I’m not sure how I got to the ripe old age of 40 without discovering the joy of listening to books. One of the tasks for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge that I am taking part in this year is to listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie award. I signed up for a free trial of Audible, and downloaded this book:

martiansmaller

First of all, it's a great story, and the narration is absolutely spot on – it really brought it alive. But mainly – audiobooks are a revelation! I can "read" a book and quilt at the same time!! I can "read" while I am making the dinner; I can "read" while I am doing the ironing; I can "read" in the bath without risking dropping my book in the water. Hurrah for audiobooks!! I have used my birthday money to treat myself to some decent headphones and a year’s subscription to Audible.

My next audiobook is this one:

sorcerer

This will fulfil the challenge task to read a book by an author from Southeast Asia. The author, Zen Cho, was born in Malaysia. The books sounds pretty intriguing, don’t you think?

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman – a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar – as their Sorcerer Royal and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession.
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path that will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain – and the world at large.

So, my Slow Sunday Stitching this week will involve headphones and a quilt, much like this:

stitch & listen

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Read Harder Challenge 2016

I don’t do New Year Resolutions. I try to go with the thought that every day is a chance to begin afresh. Or even every minute, every second, every breath. And I am generally a bit hopeless at sticking with challenges. However, I do like to read books. I like to vary what sort of books I read but, like most people, find it easier to stick to the familiar sometimes – genres and authors I know I like. So, this year I am challenging myself to take part in the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. Here’s the list of the challenge tasks:

ReadHarderChallenge2016_checklist-1

I’m already making a start on “Read a book out loud to someone else” – I am reading “The Princess Bride” aloud to Rafe who, even though he is a confident reader himself, and nearly 11 years old, still likes to be read aloud to. I’m not complaining 🙂

I am also already part way through “The Corpse Reader” by Antonio Garrido, which will satisfy the challenge to “Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900”. I must admit that I would never have selected this book had it not been recommended to me by two people – a bookworm friend and also my mum. I’m not very far through but it’s quite gripping so far!

Are you planning any reading challenges this year? Have you any recommendations for books to satisfy any of the other challenges mentioned? I am always on the lookout for good books!

Happy New Year!

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A Month, a Hobby, and a Mythical Creature

I haven’t posted an update on the treasure hunt reading challenge for a while, but I have read a couple more books, crossing off two clues.

elegy-for-april1

The first, for the clue of “a month” was a crime novel called “Elegy for April”, described as:

April Latimer has vanished. A junior doctor at a local hospital, she is something of a scandal in the conservative and highly patriarchal society of 1950s Dublin. Though her family is one of the most respected in the city, she is known for being independent-minded; her taste in men, for instance, is decidedly unconventional.

Now April has disappeared, and her friend Phoebe Griffin suspects the worst. Frantic, Phoebe seeks out Quirke, her brilliant but erratic father, and asks him for help. Sober again after intensive treatment for alcoholism, Quirke enlists his old sparring partner, Detective Inspector Hackett, in the search for the missing young woman. In their separate ways the two men follow April’s trail through some of the darker byways of the city to uncover crucial information on her whereabouts. And as Quirke becomes deeply involved in April’s murky story, he encounters complicated and ugly truths about family savagery, Catholic ruthlessness, and race hatred.

Both an absorbing crime novel and a brilliant portrait of the difficult and relentless love between a father and his daughter, this is Benjamin Black at his sparkling best.

I don’t read a lot of crime novels these days, as they scare me too much ;-). This one, however, I found so dull as not be worthy of any scared feelings. It is set in 1950s Dublin and my main impression was of lots of descriptions of rain, dingy bars and people smoking cigarettes. Not sure about this being the author at his “sparkling best”. Perhaps if I had read the previous two books in the series I might have felt more empathy for the characters, but as it was I struggled a bit. Ah well, that’s the “month” category ticked off. And I read something I probably wouldn’t otherwise have read, so a success in that respect.

Second up was for the “hobby you have” category, for which I read Marie Duenas’ fine novel “The Seamstress”.

seamstress

Spain, 1936 and the brink of civil war.

Aged twelve, Sira Quiroga was apprenticed to a Madrid dressmaker. As she masters the seamstress’s art, her life seems to be clearly mapped out – until she falls passionately in love and flees with her seductive lover.

But in Morocco she is betrayed and left penniless. As civil war engulfs Spain, Sira finds she cannot return and so turns to her one true skill – and sews beautiful clothes for the expat elite and their German friends.

With Europe rumbling towards war, Sira is lured back to Franco’s Nazis-friendly Spain. She is drawn into the shadowy world of espionage, rife with love, intrigue and betrayal.

And where the greatest danger lies. . .

This was much more gripping. There’s history, espionage, doomed romance, wonderful friendships and even beautiful descriptions of fabrics. Yep, a much more satisfying read and definitely recommended, if you can face picking up a book of 600 plus pages 😉

I have now started reading Tracy Chevalier’s “The Lady and the Unicorn” which should nicely fit the clue of “mythical creature”.

If you don’t have a “clue” what I’m talking about, read my first post about the challenge here.

And as always, if you have any recommendations for any of the categories I have left, then feel free to share them. These are the remaining treasures to hunt:

Something you’d find in space
Geological formation
A colour

A farmyard animal
A type of building
An illness
A country
A girl’s name
A boy’s name
A body of water
A mode of transportation
A kind of food
A kind of drink
A flower
A hobby you don’t have
Something made of metal
Something made of wood
Something made of plastic
A toy or game
A family relationship
A number
A shape
Something you don’t like
Something scientific
A question mark
A bird
A time of day

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Hunting Treasure

Regular readers will know that I looooove books.

Like many people, I suspect, I do tend to read books that I know are “me” – that are by authors I know, or are similar to other books I have read. So, when I saw this challenge by Daire of Doing it the Open Way, I thought this might be just the thing to get me reading a wider variety of things, and taking a risk on books I might not otherwise have tried. Here’s how Daire describes the challenge:

Basically I’m going to give you a list of topics, and you have to read a book with each of those things in the title. (I’ll be doing it too). There is no time limit for this challenge, and there will be no prize, it is simply a whimsical way to get through those stacks of books you’ve ‘always’ intended on reading.

Below is the list of scavenger clues. I’ve already started thinking about books I might read for each of the clues, and these are in italics. If you have any great books to recommend that would fit into any of the categories, then give me a shout 🙂

Weather
Something you’d find in space
Geological formation
A colour
My Name is Red (Orhan Pamuk)
A farmyard animal
A zoo animal The Tiger’s Wife (Tea Obreht)
A type of building
A profession
An illness
A month November (Flaubert)
A country
A girl’s name Naomi (Jun’ichirō Tanizaki)
A boy’s name
A body of water Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys)
A mode of transportation
A kind of food Quite a Year for Plums (Bailey White)
A kind of drink The Color of Tea (Hannah Tunnicliffe)
A feeling
A flower Black Orchid (Neil Gaiman)
A hobby you have
A hobby you don’t have
Something made of metal
Something made of wood
Something made of plastic
A toy or game
A family relationship
A number
A mythical creature
A shape
Something you’d wear
Something you don’t like
Something scientific
A question mark
A precious stone
A bird
A time of day#

What fun!!

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