#12Days of Christmas book game: day 5

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Five Gold Rings

gold-rings

Day 5 of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway.

A bit later than planned today sorry but at last we get a respite from the birds. Only a temporary one unfortunately because tomorrow we are back with them so lets enjoy the break when we can. Today we need to find book titles, cover images, author names etc  that match the fifth line of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas.  So we need book titles or author names or cover images reflecting the idea of gold, rings or five. Should be easy??

Booker Talk Titles for Day 

This was rather easy today…..

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming: this wasn’t too hard to think of because I was sorting out some boxes last week and found my husband’s collection of Fleming’s James Bond series that he has kept since about the 1970s.  It’s seventh novel in the series and was  published in  1959. Goldfinger. I admit to never having read anything by Fleming nor have I seen the recent film versions.

Lord of the Rings by J.  R. R Tolkein Another novel I have never read despite its status as one of the best-selling novels of all time. It  began as a sequel to Tolkien’s 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed into a much larger work written in stages between 1937 and 1949, . I did try The Hobbit because it was talked about so much in the sixth form and then university but it did nothing for me. It’s this experience that made me realise I don’t take too well to novels with talking animals.

Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell. I do remember enjoying this autobiographical story of how Maxwell, a naturalist, brought an otter back from his travels in Iraq and raised it at his home in Scotland. Eventually it was discovered to be a previously unknown sub species – subsequently named in honour of Maxwell.

Now over to you – here’s How to Play:

Come up with book titles or book images or anything book related (could be the name of a location mentioned in the book or a character) that matches with gold rings  Let’s see how creative you can be. I’m looking ideally for 3 titles/images etc . You can mix and match your nominations.

Put your titles into the comments field of that day’s post. Don’t just give me the name since you could easily get that from a Google search – tell us something about the book itself. Why did you choose these titles – are they from your TBR or ones you’ve seen mentioned on a blog. Please try not to just use lists from Goodreads etc.

Feel free to blog about this on your own site or via Twitter using the #12days hashtag

The Giveaway

There’s an incentive to play along with this which is a giveaway of a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository

To participate, your list of books must be in the comments field by 10pm GMT/5pm Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday Dec 6.

Day by Day Prompts

Day 1:   Partridge in a Pear Tree
Day 2:   Turtle Doves
Day 3:    French Hens
Day 4:   Calling Birds
Day 5:    Gold Rings
Day 6:   Geese a-Laying
Day 7:   Swans a-Swimming
Day 8:   Maids a-Milking
Day 9:   Ladies Dancing
Day 10:  Lords a-Leaping
Day 11:   Pipers Piping
Day 12:   Drummers Drumming

Rules of the Game

1.Each day a post will go live on booker talk.com matched to the task for that day. All you to do is post a comment with your list of books on the page

2. Each day try to come up with 3 titles. No need to think of 11 books featuring pipers or eight with maids in them. This is meant to be fun not mission impossible…..

3. Participants are encouraged to be creative with the names of titles matching each day. But the books do need to be in existence – no scope here for making up your own titles.

4. The number of contributions per person will be totalled and the one with the highest number will win the prize. So if you post three titles for day 6 and 5 on day 11, that gives a total of 8 points.

5. Contributions should be entered on the page within the time limit stated each day – typically I will give 48 hours between the time I post the day’s challenge and when comments will be closed.

6. You don’t need to play every day in order to be entered for the prize. Some days will be easier than others – and anyway you have all that shopping and packing still to do

7. There is only one prize – available internationally. The Prize winner will be announced on the blog around about the 15th of December.

6. The prize is that you get to choose a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository that I will arrange to ship to you. This will probably not arrive until next year given the last postage dates for international mail.

 

Day 4 of #12Days of Christmas book game

mockingbird-montage

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Four Calling Birds

Day 4 of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway.

We’re a third of the way through the song. On day 4 we are still on a bird theme (we get a break from that tomorrow!) but hopefully this one will be easier. Today we need to find book titles, cover images, author names etc  that match the fourth line of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Don’t know what qualifies as a calling bird? Apparently there have  been, at different times in history, different versions of this song. One had “four canary birds”, another as  “four mockingbirds,” and before that they show up as “colly birds” or “collie birds,” which is the archaic term for blackbirds. To make it easier  lets give ourselves maximum leeway where any bird will count

Booker Talk Titles for Day 

This wasn’t too difficult …..

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This has been a popular novel ever since its publication in 1960, made yet more popular when it became a film in which Gregory Peck played Atticus Finch, a lawyer in a small Southern town who defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge. In 2015, the novel gained new attention with the discovery after 50 plus years of another novel featuring Atticus’ daughter Scout. Go Set a Watchman was  completed in the mid-50s but lost for more than half a century. Its publication galvanised people to re-read To Kill a Mocking Bird. 

Lark Rise to Candelford by Flora Thompson:  A book “everyone” seemed to be reading back in my younger days but I’ve never read. It’s a trilogy of semi-autobiographical novels about the countryside of north-east Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, England, at the end of the 19th century.The stories were previously published separately as Lark Rise in 1939 , Over to Candleford in 1941 and Candleford Green in 1943. The books describe village life through the seasons of the year. I might give this a go sometime.

My third title is somewhat of  a tangential link but is highly topic. I give you the poet Philip LARKin. This bespectacled librarian was the very antithesis of people’s perception of how a poet should look but the measure of his work is that he gained him innumerable honours and  Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He turned down the opportunity to become Poet Laureate however. This week saw another honour bestowed on him when a memorial plaque was unveiled in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey alongside Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and D.H Lawrence. One of my favourites is this:

An Arundel Tomb

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd—
The little dogs under their feet.
Such plainness of the pre-baroque 
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.
They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.
They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they
Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,
Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:
Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

 

Now over to you – here’s How to Play:

Come up with book titles or book images or anything book related (could be the name of a location mentioned in the book or a character) that matches with ‘calling birds’ or just ‘birds’ or any specific kind of bird.  Let’s see how creative you can be. I’m looking ideally for 3 titles/images etc . You can mix and match your nominations.

Put your titles into the comments field of that day’s post. Don’t just give me the name since you could easily get that from a Google search – tell us something about the book itself. Why did you choose these titles – are they from your TBR or ones you’ve seen mentioned on a blog. Please try not to just use lists from Goodreads etc.

Feel free to blog about this on your own site or via Twitter using the #12days hashtag

The Giveaway

There’s an incentive to play along with this which is a giveaway of a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository

To participate, your list of books must be in the comments field by 10pm GMT/5pm Eastern Standard Time on Monday Dec 5.

Day by Day Prompts

Day 1:   Partridge in a Pear Tree
Day 2:   Turtle Doves
Day 3:    French Hens
Day 4:   Calling Birds
Day 5:    Gold Rings
Day 6:   Geese a-Laying
Day 7:   Swans a-Swimming
Day 8:   Maids a-Milking
Day 9:   Ladies Dancing
Day 10:  Lords a-Leaping
Day 11:   Pipers Piping
Day 12:   Drummers Drumming

Rules of the Game

1.Each day a post will go live on booker talk.com matched to the task for that day. All you to do is post a comment with your list of books on the page

2. Each day try to come up with 3 titles. No need to think of 11 books featuring pipers or eight with maids in them. This is meant to be fun not mission impossible…..

3. Participants are encouraged to be creative with the names of titles matching each day. But the books do need to be in existence – no scope here for making up your own titles.

4. The number of contributions per person will be totalled and the one with the highest number will win the prize. So if you post three titles for day 6 and 5 on day 11, that gives a total of 8 points.

5. Contributions should be entered on the page within the time limit stated each day – typically I will give 48 hours between the time I post the day’s challenge and when comments will be closed.

6. You don’t need to play every day in order to be entered for the prize. Some days will be easier than others – and anyway you have all that shopping and packing still to do

7. There is only one prize – available internationally. The Prize winner will be announced on the blog around about the 15th of December.

6. The prize is that you get to choose a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository that I will arrange to ship to you. This will probably not arrive until next year given the last postage dates for international mail.

 

Day 3 of #12Days of Christmas book game

3-french-hens

 

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Three French Hens

Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway.

Our task today is to come up with book titles that match the third line of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. This means yet more birds but hopefully slightly easier than day 2. Remember you can try to stick to the prompt of ‘french hens’  for titles of books or authors (??) or cover images though other than a cookery book I’d be struggling with this. OR you can go off piste and be creative.

Booker Talk Titles for Day 3

I failed even more miserably with French Hens than with yesterday’s prompt of turtle doves, so I have had to think more broadly. I don’tt know that these qualify as hens since the authors are not all female, but here are three French titles from my TBR list.

The Kill by Emile Zola: I became enamoured with Zola when I read Germinal so have been slowly reading other titles from the Rougon-Marquet series. It’s a long term project since there are twenty books in the cycle. Here’s the status of my Zola project so far.  I’ve picked The Kill (in French this book is known as La Curée) because it’s book number 2 in the series. Apparently this is a different kettle of fish to the predecessor  La Fortune des Rougon that I read last year – The Kill is a study of the next generation of the Rougon family and the wealth they acquire but it also a plot involving sexual and political intrigue.

Candide by Voltaire:  I’ve never read anything by Voltaire so when I saw this – the only title of his I’ve heard of – in a secondhand charity shop I snapped it up but in three years I’ve never felt compelled to open it. All I know is that its a satire first published in 1759 which features the young man, Candide, who lives sheltered life in which he is indoctrinated by his mentor, Professor Pangloss. This lifestyle comes to an abrupt end and Candide then begins a painful process of disillusionment. The philosophical content is putting me off rather – have any of you read it? If so, would you recommend it?

My third title is another classic – this time by Balzac who I read for the first time in 2015 and loved. La Cousine Bette. This is an 1846 novel set in Paris which tells the story of an unmarried middle-aged woman who plots the destruction of her extended family.  The book is part of the Scènes de la vie parisienne section of Balzac’s novel sequence La Comédie humaine (“The Human Comedy”).

Now over to you – here’s How to Play:

Come up with book titles or book images or anything book related (could be the name of a location mentioned in the book or a character) that matches with either ‘French’ or ‘Hens’ or both if you are feeling adventurous. Let’s see how creative you can be. I’m looking ideally for 3 titles/images etc . You can mix and match your nominations.

Put your titles into the comments field of that day’s post. Don’t just give me the name since you could easily get that from a Google search – tell us something about the book itself. Why did you choose these titles – are they from your TBR or ones you’ve seen mentioned on a blog. Please try not to just use lists from Goodreads etc.

Feel free to blog about this on your own site or via Twitter using the #12days hashtag

The Giveaway

There’s an incentive to play along with this which is a giveaway of a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository

To participate, your list of books must be in the comments field by 10pm GMT/5pm Eastern Standard Time on Sunday Dec 4.

Day by Day Prompts

Day 1:   Partridge in a Pear Tree
Day 2:   Turtle Doves
Day 3:    French Hens
Day 4:   Calling Birds
Day 5:    Gold Rings
Day 6:   Geese a-Laying
Day 7:   Swans a-Swimming
Day 8:   Maids a-Milking
Day 9:   Ladies Dancing
Day 10:  Lords a-Leaping
Day 11:   Pipers Piping
Day 12:   Drummers Drumming

Rules of the Game

1.Each day a post will go live on booker talk.com matched to the task for that day. All you to do is post a comment with your list of books on the page

2. Each day try to come up with 3 titles. No need to think of 11 books featuring pipers or eight with maids in them. This is meant to be fun not mission impossible…..

3. Participants are encouraged to be creative with the names of titles matching each day. But the books do need to be in existence – no scope here for making up your own titles.

4. The number of contributions per person will be totalled and the one with the highest number will win the prize. So if you post three titles for day 6 and 5 on day 11, that gives a total of 8 points.

5. Contributions should be entered on the page within the time limit stated each day – typically I will give 48 hours between the time I post the day’s challenge and when comments will be closed.

6. You don’t need to play every day in order to be entered for the prize. Some days will be easier than others – and anyway you have all that shopping and packing still to do

7. There is only one prize – available internationally. The Prize winner will be announced on the blog around about the 15th of December.

6. The prize is that you get to choose a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository that I will arrange to ship to you. This will probably not arrive until next year given the last postage dates for international mail.

 

Day 2 of #12Days of Christmas book game

 

turtle-doves

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Two Turtle Doves

Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway.

Our task today is to come up with book titles that match the second line of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. The likelihood you come up with a title including all three words is remote but you may have more luck with either turtles or doves. Remember this can be a cover image or a book title or an author’s name.  Here’s my attempt…

Booker Talk Titles for Day 2

I failed miserably with turtles, there being nothing in my TBR or wishlist or brain that I could fit with that theme. I had a bit better luck with doves.

When the Doves Disappeared by Sofi Oksanen. This comes from my TBR and was a book I bought in Cirencester on Dec 26 last year (known in the UK as Boxing Day).We went on a little outing to get away from the claustrophia of two days with the family in a rented house. I didn’t expect to find many places open but what a delight to find a branch of Waterstones – equal to my delight at finding a shoe shop with a lovely pair of boots at a crazy price.  I bought When the Doves Disappeared purely because it was on one of the buy one, get one half price offers and it would add another country to my world literature reading list. Almost a year has elapsed and I have picked it up a few times but then found something else that was calling to me more. Maybe I will get to it before it’s first birthday.

The Wings of the Dove by Henry James. This is a 1902 novel that relates  the story of Milly Theale, an American heiress stricken with a serious disease, and her effect on the people around her. I’ve read a few novels/novellas by Henry James with varying success. Portrait of A Lady I found incredibly slow though I warmed to it on second reading. The Turn of the Screw (click the title to find my review) wasn’t anywhere as sinister as it could have been – – I was more intrigued by the question of whether this story about ghosts was a figment of the governess’ fiction. Washington Square (reviewed here) was far superior to Daisy Miller. Because I”ve had such mixed reactions I’m willing to give him another go so Wings of a Dove is on my wishlist.

Sadly I couldn’t come up with a third title without resorting to Google lists (which would be cheating) so I offer you a third literary connection instead ….

Dove Cottage. This was the small home of the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy that I visited two years ago. It’s very close to Lake Grasmere in the Lake District of England which inspired so many of Wordsworth’s poems. The cottage is tiny so would have been rather dark and gloomy in winter but it has a lovely tiered garden at the back. Luxury it is not nor romantic in any sense……But they loved it apparently.

Now over to you – here’s How to Play:

Come up with book titles or book images or anything book related (could be the name of a location mentioned in the book or a character) that matches with either ‘turtle’ or ‘dove”. Let’s see how creative you can be. I’m looking ideally for 3 titles/images etc . You can mix and match your nominations just as I did.

Put your titles into the comments field of that day’s post. Don’t just give me the name since you could easily get that from a Google search – tell us something about the book itself. Why did you choose these titles – are they from your TBR or ones you’ve seen mentioned on a blog. Please try not to just use lists from Goodreads etc.

Feel free to blog about this on your own site or via Twitter using the #12days hashtag

The Giveaway

There’s an incentive to play along with this which is a giveaway of a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository

To participate, your list of books must be in the comments field by 10pm GMT/5pm Eastern Standard Time on Saturday Dec 3.

Day by Day Prompts

Day 1:   Partridge in a Pear Tree
Day 2:   Turtle Doves
Day 3:    French Hens
Day 4:   Calling Birds
Day 5:    Gold Rings
Day 6:   Geese a-Laying
Day 7:   Swans a-Swimming
Day 8:   Maids a-Milking
Day 9:   Ladies Dancing
Day 10:  Lords a-Leaping
Day 11:   Pipers Piping
Day 12:   Drummers Drumming

Rules of the Game

1.Each day a post will go live on booker talk.com matched to the task for that day. All you to do is post a comment with your list of books on the page

2. Each day try to come up with 3 titles. No need to think of 11 books featuring pipers or eight with maids in them. This is meant to be fun not mission impossible…..

3. Participants are encouraged to be creative with the names of titles matching each day. But the books do need to be in existence – no scope here for making up your own titles.

4. The number of contributions per person will be totalled and the one with the highest number will win the prize. So if you post three titles for day 6 and 5 on day 11, that gives a total of 8 points.

5. Contributions should be entered on the page within the time limit stated each day – typically I will give 48 hours between the time I post the day’s challenge and when comments will be closed.

6. You don’t need to play every day in order to be entered for the prize. Some days will be easier than others – and anyway you have all that shopping and packing still to do

7. There is only one prize – available internationally. The Prize winner will be announced on the blog around about the 15th of December.

6. The prize is that you get to choose a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository that I will arrange to ship to you. This will probably not arrive until next year given the last postage dates for international mail.

 

Let the game begin: Day 1 of #12Days of Christmas book game

patrdrige-in-tree-1

Day 1 of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway.

Our task today is to come up with book titles that match the first line of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas.

On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me
a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Booker Talk Titles for Day 1

I bombed out on partridge and pears – nothing in my TBR or wishlist that fitted that bill so I had to go on the theme of trees…..

The Tree of Life by Maryse Conde. This was a novel I read earlier in the year as part of Women In Translation Month. I’d never read anything by an author from Guadeloupe. Sadly this wasn’t a great novel though I can see that it had important themes about race and ambition. Here’s my review.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: I’ve seen this mentioned so many times and recommended highly. I’ve added it to my wishlist. Not quite a classic it’s still immensely popular. Published in 1943 it tells the story of a second generation Irish-American girl and her family who live in Brooklyn. It comprises five books which each focus on a different time period in the family’s history. Just hope its not as sentimental as Little Women, another American classic I just finished reading.

Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy: This was the first of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Wessex’ novels. I read it a few decades ago when I had a spate of reading Hardy. It wasn’t one of my favourite Hardy novels – I much preferred the harder edge of Tess of the d’Urbervilles or The Return of the Native to this amiable portrait of life in a provincial town. I can’t have thought that badly of it though because i still have that edition of the book in my shelves. Could be time to give it another go.

Now over to you – here’s How to Play:

Come up with book titles or book images or anything book related (could be the name of a location mentioned in the book or a character) that matches with either ‘partridge’ or ‘pear tree’. Lets see how creative you can be. I’m looking ideally for 3 titles/images etc ..You can mix and match your nominations to give 2 instances of partridge and 1 of pear tree if you want

Put your titles into the comments field of that day’s post. Don’t just give me the name since you could easily get that from a Google search – tell us something about the book itself. Why did you choose these titles – are they from your TBR or ones you’ve seen mentioned on a blog. Please try not to just use lists from Goodreads etc.

Feel free to blog about this on your own site or via Twitter using the #12days hashtag

The Giveaway

There’s an incentive to play along with this which is a giveaway of a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository

To participate, your list of books must be in the comments field by 10pm GMT/5pm Eastern Standard Time on Friday Dec 3.

 

Day by Day Prompts

Day 1:   Partridge in a Pear Tree
Day 2:   Turtle Doves
Day 3:    French Hens
Day 4:   Calling Birds
Day 5:    Gold Rings
Day 6:   Geese a-Laying
Day 7:   Swans a-Swimming
Day 8:   Maids a-Milking
Day 9:   Ladies Dancing
Day 10:  Lords a-Leaping
Day 11:   Pipers Piping
Day 12:   Drummers Drumming

Rules of the Game

1.Each day a post will go live on booker talk.com matched to the task for that day. All you to do is post a comment with your list of books on the page

2. Each day try to come up with 3 titles. No need to think of 11 books featuring pipers or eight with maids in them. This is meant to be fun not mission impossible…..

3. Participants are encouraged to be creative with the names of titles matching each day. But the books do need to be in existence – no scope here for making up your own titles.

4. The number of contributions per person will be totalled and the one with the highest number will win the prize. So if you post three titles for day 6 and 5 on day 11, that gives a total of 8 points.

5. Contributions should be entered on the page within the time limit stated each day – typically I will give 48 hours between the time I post the day’s challenge and when comments will be closed.

6. You don’t need to play every day in order to be entered for the prize. Some days will be easier than others – and anyway you have all that shopping and packing still to do

7. There is only one prize – available internationally. The Prize winner will be announced on the blog around about the 15th of December.

6. The prize is that you get to choose a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository that I will arrange to ship to you. This will probably not arrive until next year given the last postage dates for international mail.

 

On your marks: 12 Days of Christmas book game and giveaway starts tomorrow #12days

12days1

Tomorrow is Dec 1st and the official start of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway that I announced earlier this month.

To play you need to come up with book titles that match the subject of that day in the cycle song The Twelve Days of Christmas – the one that starts with

On the First day of Christmas my true love sent to me
a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me

Two Turtle Doves

and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.

There’s an incentive to play along with this which is a giveaway of a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository

How to Play:

Starting tomorrow and for each of the next 12 days I will publish a post which asks you to come up with a list of books that matches that day in the song. So on Dec 1 (day 1) you’ll be asked to name books (ideally 3) which feature a partridge or a pear tree either in the title, or the cover image or even as  a character. On Day 7 you need to find book titles, cover images etc featuring swans. Be creative – if you can’t think of book titles including the word swan then how  about authors called Swan (and variations of that) or books which feature swimming…

Put your titles into the comments field of that day’s post. Don’t just give me the name since you could easily get that from a Google search – tell us something about the book itself.

Feel free to blog about this on your own site or via Twitter using the #12days hashtag

Here’s the list so you can get thinking….entries in advance of the day’s posting will not be counted.

I will put my list of books in the day’s post.

Day by Day Prompts

Day 1:   Partridge in a Pear Tree
Day 2:   Turtle Doves
Day 3:    French Hens
Day 4:   Calling Birds
Day 5:    Gold Rings
Day 6:   Geese a-Laying
Day 7:   Swans a-Swimming
Day 8:   Maids a-Milking
Day 9:   Ladies Dancing
Day 10:  Lords a-Leaping
Day 11:   Pipers Piping
Day 12:   Drummers Drumming

Rules of the Game

1.Each day a post will go live on booker talk.com matched to the task for that day. All you to do is post a comment with your list of books on the page

2. Each day try to come up with 3 titles. No need to think of 11 books featuring pipers or eight with maids in them. This is meant to be fun not mission impossible…..

3. Participants are encouraged to be creative with the names of titles matching each day. But the books do need to be in existence – no scope here for making up your own titles.

4. The number of contributions per person will be totalled and the one with the highest number will win the prize. So if you post three titles for day 6 and 5 on day 11, that gives a total of 8 points.

5. Contributions should be entered on the page within the time limit stated each day – typically I will give 48 hours between the time I post the day’s challenge and when comments will be closed.

6. You don’t need to play every day in order to be entered for the prize. Some days will be easier than others – and anyway you have all that shopping and packing still to do

7. There is only one prize – available internationally. The Prize winner will be announced on the blog around about the 15th of December.

6. The prize is that you get to choose a book up to the value of $20 USD from the Book Depository that I will arrange to ship to you. This will probably not arrive until next year given the last postage dates for international mail.

 

10 Welsh authors for the festive season

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday meme asks us to think ahead to Dec 25 and what books we would recommend for friends, relatives etc. What a great opportunity to promote books by Welsh authors some of whom you will be familiar with but others will be unknown quantities.

  1. Let’s start with one of the biggest names and the one you will certainly have heard of – Dylan Thomas. You may have read his poetry or seen a version of Under Milk Wood but my recommendation given the season is to try get the rather delightful  A Child’s Christmas in Wales
  2. One name even bigger than Thomas is Roald Dahl who was born in Cardiff – this year saw a big splash because its his centenary year.  I have a fondness for my first Dahl book – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  3. Ken Follett was born in Cardiff, Wales and lived there until he was 10 years old. Of his many novels Pillars of the Earth stands out for being the longest (its a trilogy covering five families from war through to the 1980s.). Rather more manageable is The Man from St Petersburg which is set in 1914 as the world prepares for war. This was the first Follett book I read and I can recall being entranced by it….
  4. Sarah Waters: Yes this leading author of Tipping the Velvet is from Wales. All her novels fall into the highly readable category. I made the mistake of buying The Paying Guests (my review is here) as a Christmas gift to my mum last year. I was reading it myself and thought it was pretty good – that was before I got to the rather detailed lesbian love scenes. I’m not sure if she ever read it but she has put it in a bag of books to go to the charity shop.
  5. Cynan Jones  won the Wales Book of the Year prize for fiction with The Dig, (a novel about a badger baiter, and a grieving farmer). His latest novel Cove which came out this month is rather different – the Guardian described it as “a minimal, occasionally mysterious, man-versus-the-elements fable.”
  6. Jan Morris, a  historian, author and travel writer (though she hates that last description). Read The Matter of Wales for an education into contemporary issues in the country written by someone who loves the country. Her style is lyrical and beautiful. There is a good review of this in the Guardian
  7. Gwyn Thomas. An erudite writer with an acerbic wit who became one of the leading voices at the BBC. Read The Alone to the Alone
  8. Alexander Cordell  was a prolific novelist in the 1950s and 60s – he write around 30 novels including Rape of the Fair CountryHosts of Rebecca and Song of the Earth. A good choice for anyone who wants to understand some of the industrial heritage of the country.
  9. Turning to more contemporary authors we have Carys Davies  a writer whom I’m discovered through her success in the 2015 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. I seldom read short stories but her winning collection  The Redemption of Galen Pike was superb
  10. Coming right up to date we have Carol Lovekin whose novel Ghost Bird was published just this month. I’ve not yet read it but it comes recommended by Joanne Harris (of Chocolat fame) who called it “Charming, quirky, magical“.It was also the Waterstones Wales and Welsh Independent Bookshops Book of the Month in April this year. I;’m hoping someone might buy this for me this December…..

Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers

strongpoisonStrong Poison is the fifth book to feature Dorothy L Sayers’ aristocratic private sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read any of the earlier novels for this book can stand on its own. It’s  a wonderful introduction to Wimsey and his methods which seem to involve a lot of thinking and casual conversations with witnesses and potential perpetrators. He has one ace up his sleeve –  the group of women known as ‘The Cattery’, members of  a fictitious typing bureau who are deployed to infiltrate houses and offices and nose about on his behalf.

These were spinsters with small fixed incomes or o comes at all, widows without family; women deserted by peripatetic husbands and living on a restricted alimony, who previous to their engagement ….had had no resources but bridge and boarding house gossip.

 

It’s a brilliant device because it gives scope for some wonderful characterisations and amusing episodes. In Strong Poison we benefit from  two highly amusing scenes in which one woman takes part in a seance and pretends to be a medium  and another where a man takes lessons from a master thief on how to pick locks.

The plot revolves Harriet Vane who is on trial for the murder by arsenic powder of her former lover. Whimsy attends the trial and is convinced that Harriet Vane is not guilty of murder but can he prove this in time to save her from the gallows? He’s up against it since the police are equally convinced they have the right culprit and even the judge at her trial seems to be against her. Finding the real poisoner isn’t just a case of exerting true justice – Wimsey has another motivation for solving the mystery – he has decided he wants to marry Harriet even though all he knows about her is what was revealed at the trial. She understandably demures at this proposal since she knows even less about him, but Wimsey is not a man to take no for an answer.

The plot is reasonably straight forward – surprisingly I guessed who the culprit was long before the revelation (as I suspect many other readers will). Less evident than the answer to the question whodunnit? was the answer to the question of how the murder was accomplished. That one kept me perplexed right to the end.

The plot is less important than the characters and the setting however. This is novel dating from the 1930s, an era often labelled as the “golden age of crime”  because it also saw the rise of two authors who became synonymous with crime fiction: Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh.  It’s an era wonderfully evoked by Sayers who of course was writing about her contemporary world. Equally masterful is her creation of Lord Wimsey. One moment you’re thinking that despite his elegant clothes and foppish language  he is a bit of an idiot and the next thinking how astute a judge of character he is.  A most unusual private eye .

All together an entertaining novel that did the job perfectly when I needed an antidote so some of my darker reading materials. I know where to turn when I’m next in that mood.

Footnotes

The Book: Strong Poison  by Dorothy  L. Sayers was published in 1930. According to Wikipedia the relationship between  Harriet and her lover  was inspired by Sayers’ own fraught relationship with fellow-author John Cournos. Cournos wanted her to ignore social mores and live with him without marriage, but she wanted to marry and have children. After a year of agony between 1921 and 1922, she learned that Cournos had claimed to be against marriage only to test her devotion, and she broke off with him.

My edition: Published by Hodder and Stoughton’s New English Library. It has an introduction by Elizabeth George which pays tribute to Sayers’ ability to conjure up compelling characters.

Why I read this: it was in a second hand book shop and in excellent condition so of course I had to buy it but then left it lingering on the shelf for a while.  I had just read Little Women and after so much saccharine I needed a complete change of pace .

 

Perplexed by Pinterest

sundaysalonI’ve had an account with Pinterest now (here I am) for about two years and you know what – I still don’t get it. I have several boards. One is a collection of images interesting doorways (on holiday I like to take pictures of handles and knockers – don’t ask me why). Another is a group of fabulous libraries around the world. I also have seven boards for book related topics. I don’t really know why I have so many but they are in a bit of a mess.

I dutifully add to these collections when I see something on another board thats of interest. But I’m beginning to wonder what the point is – some the images get copied to other people’s boards but as far as I can tell none of this activity has resulted in any traffic to my blog or comments.

Looking at other book related boards I see people create images of collections of books often labelling them ‘Best books of xxx year” or ‘books for your book club’ but that would take a fair amount of effort and I’m not convinced yet that it would be worth doing.

Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way entirely. I admit I have a lot to learn on some of the image related social media channels (I don’t have an Instagram account because I can’t imagine anyone being interested in pictures of what I eat which seems to be a popular topic).  Am I missing out on some key factor for success in this realm? Do any of you have Pinterest accounts and use them for book-related topics? If so, how do you get this to work for you?

Good reads from Scotland

viewfromhere

We’re back in the land of the Celts for the choice of our next country in The View From Here series on literature from around the world. Our featured country is Scotland where our guide is Joanne who blogs at PortobelloBookBlog.

Let’s meet Joanne

portobello-readingHi, I’m Joanne and I live in Portobello, Edinburgh right by the sea. A lot of people probably don’t realise that Edinburgh has a seaside as it is probably better known for tourist attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Yacht Brittania. I’ve always lived in Edinburgh though was born and brought up in Leith, now famous thanks to The Proclaimers’ Sunshine on Leith or infamous thanks to Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. I’ve lived in Portobello for 18 years now and it is very much home. So a natural choice when I came to pick a blog name was Portobello Book Blog. I mainly read and review contemporary fiction, crime, thrillers and romance novels. I run regular features where authors can answer a set of spotlight questions or write a guest post about their work. I also feature other book bloggers every Friday in my Blogger in the Spotlight feature. You can follow me on my blog or via my Twitter account @portybelle and my Facebook page.

Q. Do you enjoy novels set in your own country or do you feel authors don’t always do a good job of representing it in their fiction?

I do enjoy books set in Scotland. It’s always fun to read about a place you know really well and spot any changes that authors make. In general I think authors represent Scotland well. There are some books which are rather dark and depict a side of Scotland I might not like (reference Mr Welsh above!) but that’s not to say they’re not realistic. I think what authors sometimes don’t do very well is incorporating a Scottish character in a book set elsewhere. Quite often I find they can be quite stereotypical having red hair and saying ‘och’ a lot! And really, we don’t tend to wear kilts these days except at weddings, graduations or other special events.

Q. Who are your favourite Scottish authors?

Oh this is a difficult question. What makes an author Scottish – is it being born here, living here or writing books set here? I do enjoy Ian Rankin’s books, Alexander McCall Smith’s Scotland Street and Isabel Dalhousie series are immensely entertaining and I think James Robertson is brilliant. Liz Lochhead was at our local book festival in October and she was superb, though I confess I don’t tend to read much poetry. Doug Johnstone is a local author who I think is terrific. I’ve enjoyed all his books, they are fast paced tense thrillers and he puts his characters is some awful situations!

Q. Are there any  Scottish authors who are not quite as well-known but you think are up and coming or deserve more attention?

This is also a difficult question as I have been lucky enough to have been asked by lots of local authors to read their work. So they are well known to me but perhaps not to a wider audience. This year I really enjoyed A Fine House in Trinity by Lesley Kelly, a crime novel which was longlisted for the William McIlvanney prize (previously called the Scottish Crime Book of the Year). Helen MacKinven is an author writer whose novels Talk of the Toun and Buy Buy Baby are full of dark humour and are both excellent. She uses dialect quite a bit which gives her characters a really authentic voice. I might have included Graeme Macrae Burnet had you asked me this a few weeks ago but since His Bloody Project was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, I think it’s fair to say he has a much higher profile these days. Other debut novelists I’ve read and enjoyed this year are Lesley Anderson, Jackie Baldwin, Stella Hervey Birrell, Shelley Day, Mary Paulson-Ellis

Q. Scotland seems to have made a mark when it comes to crime fiction with some really big hitters like Ian Rankin, Val McDermid. Any reasons you can think why the country is so successful in terms of crime genre – what does it say about the Scottish mentality maybe or is it something to do with the infamously long nights and rain?? 

Scotland has a bit of a reputation for ill health and hard crime and I think a lot of that comes from poverty. As in so many areas, coal mining, the steel industry, the shipbuilding industry and the fishing industry have either vanished completely or employ dramatically fewer people. Low income and unemployment can lead to desperation and that’s when crime happens. I suspect that the dark nights and often dire weather also lead to a bit depression. I’ve heard it said that Scots are hardened to cope with the climate and our often shocking sporting results, though Andy Murray is doing his bit to restore national pride! All these things combine to create a dark mentality which, in my friend’s words, ‘enjoys a good murder’! But to balance that, Scotland is a country with stunningly beautiful countryside, picturesque lochs, magnificent mountains and islands and many authors make good use of this physical beauty in their work creating a more positive picture.

Q.We know about Nordic noir – is there such a thing as Scottish noir?

Tartan noir! As you mentioned above, Scotland seems to be producing a lot of very successful crime writers. I would say that Tartan Noir draws on Scotland’s traditions and history. There is often an element of good versus evil and the idea that there is a constant battle within each of us (like Jekyll and Hyde). Quite often the main characters are flawed and not always likeable. Then again, sometimes it’s the criminal who is drawn in a sympathetic way. That’s the Scottish contradiction for you! The general mood can often be bleak and this can be mirrored by the weather or dark nights. Bloody Scotland is an annual crime festival celebrating crime writers from Scotland and beyond, which is growing bigger and more successful every year. Not everyone likes the label ‘tartan noir’ though is it does somewhat reinforce the shortbread tin image of Scotland.

Q. Looking beyond crime, who are some of the classic Scottish authors? Many will know of Walter Scott but who else comes to mind?

Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Robert Burns, Jessie Kesson, Neil Gunn, James Hogg are all writers I would consider classic Scottish authors. More recently I would include Nigel Tranter, Alasdair Gray, Muriel Spark, William McIlvanney, Norman MacCaig Iain Crichton Smith, Edwin Morgan and Robin Jenkins.

Q. Which authors were required reading on the Scottish schools’ syllabus – people considered required reading? 

My two daughters are in 4th and 6th year at High School just now and will both be taking exams in English at the end of the year. Firstly, I have to say that I don’t think that pupils now have to read as much as I did when I was at school! I remember reading Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns although there was a lot of Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy too. I’ve just had a look at the current list for National 5 and Higher level exams and they include James Robertson, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Robert Louis Stevenson, Anne Donovan, Jackie Kay, Carol Ann Duffy, Janice Galloway, Robert Burns and John Byrne. So a lot of what I studied some years ago is still there along with more modern Scottish authors. There are definitely more women writers on the list now which is good to see.

Hope Joanne’s guest post has given you a taste for Scottish authors. If you’re tempted to explore further you have until Sunday to hot foot it north for BookWeek Scotland which ends on Sunday, Nov 27.  Or if that doesn’t work out for you just take a look at the Scottish Book Trust website. 
%d bloggers like this: