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An Abundance of Book Gifts

Greetings all. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas with friends and family.

I suspect there were a fair number of you who found book-shaped presents under the treat this year. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without any book presents as Joe March should have said…

I thought I’d share the books that came into the house as a result of this festive season. There was a very plentiful supply – more books than I can ever recall.

Family Gifts

I’ve learned with my family that it’s best to give hints about what books would give me most pleasure to receive. That way they avoid wasting their money on titles and authors that are just not to my taste. I’ve had a number of those in the past and it’s very awkward – it seems rude to say I don’t care for their gift when they’ve gone to the trouble of buying it for me. So I usually just thank them and then, after time has elapsed, pass it on quietly to someone else who will get more pleasure from it than I will.

This year I was remarkably restrained in my suggestions because I’m still on a campaign to reduce my stack of owned-but-unread books (my TBR) to a more manageable level. I feel guilty that I still have presents from Christmas past as well as birthdays that I asked for yet have not even opened.

I limited my requests to just two titles, both non fiction (another unusual feature of this year) books that caught my eye during this year’s Non Fiction November . My husband duly delivered:

Forty Autumns by Nina Willner

Willner was the first female US Army intelligence officer to lead sensitive operations in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War. When the Berlin Wall came down members of her family who had lived in Communist East Germany. were re-united with those who lived on the Western side. This sounds like an extraordinary story of courage and resilience.

Rebel Writers: The Accidental Feminists by Celia Brayfield

This is a collection of biographical features on six women writers who rebelled against sexism, inequality and prejudice and challenged the existing definitions of what writing and writers should be. Three of the featured women are writers whose work I’ve enjoyed over many years –the authors Edna O’Brien and Margaret Forster and the journalist Virginia Ironside. The remaining three are people I’ve heard of – Lynne Reid-Banks, Charlotte Bingham, Nell Dunn – but know little about so I’m hoping this book will spur me on to reading their work.

Secret Santa

I went off to the Christmas get together for the #southwalesbookstagrammers in November, knowing that I would come home with one book as a Secret Santa pressie.

That wasn’t quite how things turned out…… As this photo shows, I staggered home with rather more than one book.

I knew there were a lot but it only this morning that I discovered the total was 13 books plus a lot of other items like book marks, a t shirt, and a notebook. By the way I hope you admire my self restraint in keeping these packages unwrapped for a month! They were all generously donated by publishers and booksellers.

Here’s what was revealed today.

Judith Barrow and Juliet Greenwood that you can see at the top of the pile are both authors from Wales that I’ve meant to read for some time. The gift from HonnoPress means I have no excuses now.

There were two many books to get into one photograph so here’s the second group.

In case you can’t read the titles, I’ll list the books for you

The White Camellia by Juliet Greenwood: a love affair disrupted in its infancy by a woman’s involvement in a suffrage rally and a call up to World War 1

Stranger Within the Gates by Bertha Thomas : a collection of short stories written in 1912 and re-published by Honno

A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow another novel set against the background of the campaign for female emancipation. Two ordinary women who take huge risks in standing up for themselves and fighting for justice.

The Child in Time by Ian McEwan: I read this years ago and it remains one of my favourite McEwan novels.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano: Based on a true story of a plane crash in which the sole survivor is a 12 year old boy.

The Wych Elm by Tana French: a pscychological mystery that has been on the Sunday Times Bestseller’s list for many weeks

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson: a student chooses for her final year project, an unsolved crime in her home town

Starwars Be More Leia : sorry about this all you Star Wars fans but this is one that is going to be gifted out of the house. I really don’t need a character from a film to advise me on how to live my life

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis: fantasy adventure set in a world where girls are sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings.

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly: a retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale

Frostheart by Jamie Littler: the first venture into fiction for a children’s book illustrator . As you’d expect the pages are crammed with wonderful line drawings

Overdrawn by M J Crosskey: a novel based on a chance encounter between a young waitress desperately seeking funds to keep her brother alive and a man whose wife is slipping away from him.

The Truth Will Set You Free by Gloria Steinem: an illustrated collection of inspirational quotes from a feminist activist

This is now going to do serious damage to my TBR …….

What did Santa bring you this year? Do leave a comment telling me about your latest finds. Not that I need any more temptation to buy, but I can still be interested……

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.

 

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