Book Reviews

Day 4 of #12Days of Christmas book game


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 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.



What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

17 thoughts on “Day 4 of #12Days of Christmas book game

  • – Calling Mr King by Ronald De Fao. Hilarious book about a hit man who’s tired of his job and falls in love with…Georgian architecture.

    – The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami. Couldn’t finish it but hey, there’s “bird” in the title.

    – Les oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou by Romain Gary (The Birds are going to die in Peru by Romain Gary)

    • What was the issue with the Murakami? I’m really not sure about whether I will like his non realist works so keen to get different views

      • I couldn’t care about the story, about the characters…It’s huge so I gave up.

  • Have been following this series of posts and i did try but it’s quite tricky! Very good fun though x

  • Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
    Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
    I know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

  • In addition to Daphne du Maurier’s “The birds” (which is a great short story that’s very different from the film), there’s also the Agatha Christie short story “Four and Twenty Blackbirds”, which I read as a teenager and remember nothing about.

    I have on my TBR the Helen Oyeyemi novel Boy, Snow, Bird. And in recent years I’ve read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (amazing) and All the Birds, Singing,/i> by Evie Wyld (also amazing).

  • I thought about this in advance and my second choice was going to be To kill a mockingbird. However, you’ve said that so let me see if I can do something else. You haven’t taken my first choice:

    Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with birds – not as good as her first novel, Everyman’s rules for scientific living, but a lovely book about a relationship that develops between an older couple.

    Then, I’ll go with

    Louis de Bernieres’ Birds without wings – a book I haven’t read but one whose title has, for some reason, stuck in my head ever since it came out

    Julian Davies’ Crow mellow – Davies’ book is actually a riff on Aldous Huxley’s Crome yellow so the bird aspect really isn’t the critical thing but the title fits so you’ll have to wear it!

  • This one does feel a lot easier! I’ll suggest The Windup Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, my favorite of the Murakami’s I’ve read; and Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams. Those two came to mind immediately. And then I came up with All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, a fantasy/sci fi novel that came out this year.

  • Sounds like a fun challenge. I am completely terrible at coming up with book titles on demand, though. Have fun.

  • My favourite book in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear is Birds of a Feather which I read in 2008. I had heard of the White Feathers but I had never considered the human cost. It was hard-hitting and had a really good mystery.

    I’ve read several other books with the word ‘birds’ in the title, but let’s branch out a little to Raven Black by Ann Cleeves, the first in her ‘Shetland’ series, and which I read in 2008. Cleeves draws the Shetland island community as closed and suspicious of outsiders, so if guilt for a murder has to be pinned on someone local, then simpleton Magnus Tait is the obvious choice.

    The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe is the first in the series introducing Hazel Micaleff, in charge of a provincial police detachment 3 hours north of Toronto, Ontario. I had trouble putting this down. I rated this four stars which is high praise for me for a serial killer novel.

  • Sarah

    Robert Galbrieth’s ‘The Cuckoo Calling’ was the first one that sprung to mind for me, too.

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is my second choice.

    My third is ‘The Birds’. Admittedly, the idea struck due to the Hitchcock film of the same name, but it was based on a short story by Daphne Du Maurier. 🙂

  • Could we count Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, third volume of The Hunger Games? Not the best writing of all time, but a plot that positively stampedes the reader along to the finish line.

    Where Do Little Birds Go, a play by Camilla Whitehill which received excellent reviews at Edinburgh Fringe and which I saw in London this past fall. A powerful one-woman show about a barmaid who’s kidnapped by the Kray twins, exploring themes of sexism and power dynamics without being didactic.

    The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling), ticks two of the boxes, “calling” and “birds”! I actually really enjoyed this, an intriguing crime novel about the murder of a biracial model.

    • of course you can count it- a jay is a bid after all. Darn it, I never thought of Cuckoo Calling – that certainly fits both bird and ‘calling’ What a smart girl you are

      • (I was so very pleased with that one!)

  • 1. Going along with your choice of To Kill a Mockingbird, I’d like to read The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills.

    2. On my TBR is Follow the Blackbirds, poetry by Native American writer Gwen Westerman.

    3. Another from the TBR: Songbirds, Truffles, and Wolves: An American Naturalist in Italy by Gary Paul Nabhan, about a walk from Florence to Assisi.

    • i love the variety of approaches that people are taking here….


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