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#12Days of Christmas book game: day 10

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

Ten Lords-a-Leaping

Day 10 of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway.

I thought when I saw this “Oh blimey this is going to be tough” but somehow I managed it. We need to find titles or images or author names reflecting the tenth day in which lords went leaping about.

Booker Talk Titles for Day 

Very little came to mind for this – I can’t think of a single book containing the words Lord or Lords except for Lord of the Rings which I already used up on day 5. So I feel guilty about using it again.

At a push I can come up with the poet Lord Byron whom Lady Caroline Lamb allegedly described as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’. She would have known since she was his lover in 1812 until he tired of her. She wasnt happy about being spurned and kept pursuing him, leading to a number of scandalous encounters. Byron of course was one of the big names in the Romantic movement along with Wordsworth and Coleridge though he was less precious about the craft of writing than those two guys.

For other associations I’m going to have to go down the path of leaping which is of course one element of dance. I give you two links:

Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin – this is a true life story of how a boy rose from poverty in a small village in China to become a world class ballet dancer as a result of a whim by Chairman Mao’s wife. Having been exposed to the realities of life in America (a far cry from what the China political regime tells him to expect) Li Cunxin found he couldn’t return to his native land and sought political refuge in the United States. This is a really moving account of a young man’s determination to achieve success and the freedom to live his life the way he desired. Highly recommended.

How can I talk about male ballet dancers who abandon their home country and not mention the greatest dancer of his generation – Rudolph Nureyev?. From the moment I started taking ballet lessons as a small girl, he was this magical figure that I saw only in glimpses on a rather small screen black and white tv set. How I would loved to have seen him in a live performance but alas I had to make do with the tv version. It didn’t stop me reading everything I could get my hands on – a love affair which lasted well into my early thirties. One of the best biographies I read was Nureyev by Diane Solway which came out in 1998. She interviewed more than 200 people to put together a detailed account of his life including his defection, hedonistic life style and his fight against AIDS. His supporters were so protective of Nuryev that on his last public performance  in 1992,  they made sure he saw only the reviews that didn’t mention AIDS. It’s a fascinating read about a fascinating man

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 lords or leaping. 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 Thursday Dec 15.

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.

 

#12Days of Christmas book game: day 7

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

Seven Swans-a-Swimming

swans

Day 7 of the 12 Days of Christmas game and giveaway.

We’re over the halfway mark!. Today is our final bird related lyric (hooray) So we need book titles or author names or cover images featuring swans and/or swimming.

Booker Talk Titles for Day 

Wild Swans, Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang: this was the title that came immediately to mind for me. It’s one of my favourite books. For those of you who haven’t read it, this is the story of three generations of women in Jung Chang‘s family but its also the story of China and the upheavals its people  endured through the Mao regime. Some parts are painful to read but as a way of getting an insight into this country, it’s superb. It’s still banned in China however.

The Wild Swans at Coole by W.B Yeats:  this is a lyric poem by the Irish poet which was  written between 1916 and early 1917 when Yeats was in his fifties. It’s a melancholy poem because it reflects Yeats recognition of the passage of time and his inability to change that.

Here a link to the poem if you are not familiar with it.

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. This is a lovely novella which I enjoyed reading when I was in my early twenties. It’s about the healing power of love and friendship.  It documents the growth of a friendship between an artist living a solitary life in an abandoned lighthouse because of his disabilities and a young local girl who finds the goose wounded by gunshot. As the friendship between the girl and the artist develop, the bird is nursed back to flight and returns to the lighthouse on its annual migration.
For my third choice I did consider something with the word Swansea (pronounced Swans-y /ˈswɒnzi/, not Swan-sea) in the title – that being one of the major city’s in Wales. But that would be cheating really because the origin of this name has nothing to do with swans. The theory is that it derives from the time when it was a Viking trading post so it’s could be Sveinn’s island(in Old Norse this wold be Sveinsey) comes from the Norse name ‘Sweyn’ and ‘ey’, which can mean inlet.
So I’ve to change tack because I couldn’t think of another book containing the word swan. My third choice is therefore:
Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch: I put this on my wishlist after reading The Dinner by the same author. This one is a psychological thriller in which a  doctor to the rich and famous takes his family on holiday with disastrous results.

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 swans or swimming.  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 Saturday Dec 10.

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.

 

Two foodie novels in review

The Dinner Herman KochHerman Koch’s The Dinner was one of the publishing hits of 2012, garnering wildly differing views on whether it was an extremely well executed novel about the lengths to which parents will go to protect their offspring or a nasty book about some very dislikable people.  I enjoyed it on the whole though wasn’t convinced by the narrator Paul, a failed teacher who despises his more successful politician and celebrity brother Serge.

The two men and their wives meet in an upmarket restaurant in Amsterdam. Amid the They are there to discuss an act of unprovoked violence committed by their teenage sons. Koch reveals the nature of the boys’ attack in between scenes where a servile waiter describes the provenance of each item of food in infinite detail. It’s an evident swipe at overly pretentious restaurants.  The lamb’s-neck sweetbread might have been marinated in Sardinian olive oil and the sun-dried tomatoes raised in Bulgaria but there still isn’t very much to eat.

The first thing that struck you about Claire’s plate was its vast emptiness. Of course I’m well aware that, in the better restaurants, quality takes precedence over quantity, but there are voids and then there are voids. The void here, that part of the plate on which no food at all was present, had clearly been raised to a matter of principle. It was as though the empty plate was challenging you to say something about it, to go to the open kitchen and demand an explanation. ‘You wouldn’t even dare!’ the plate said, and laughed in your face.

Paul is clearly a man with a chip on his shoulder. He despises everything his brother and sister in law represent.

They belonged to that class of Dutch people who think everything French is ‘great’: from croissants to French bread with Camembert, from French cars (they themselves drove one of the top-end Peugeots) to French chansons and French films.”

But the reason for this deep resentment towards his brother was never fully explained. Is it purely a case of envy at the celebrity status his brother has acquired as the front runner in the upcoming national elections? Or is this another example of how Koch has structured his novel around secrets and the necessity of keeping them just that: secret.

the presidents hat

Surprisingly for a novel about a hat with supposed magical properties, the plot of The President’s Hat  by Antoine Laurain similarly turns on a meal.

Middle-ranking officer worker Daniel Mercier decides to take advantage of his wife’s absence one evening to treat himself to dinner in an elegant Parisienne brasserie. While savouring a seafood platter and crisp Pouilly-Fuissé, (and trying to ignore the price), he is astounded when the banquette alongside him is occupied by President Mitterand. Mercier lingers over his meal, eavesdropping on Mitterand’s conversation with his cohorts. When the President leaves, he has forgotten his hat. It ends up gracing the head of the starry-eyed Mercier.

He quickly discovers that the hat confers authority and confidence. His superiors discover his full potential and give him promotion. But Mercier loses the hat. The next person to find it similarly realises that its possession emboldens her to make a big change in her life.  The hat passes through a succession of hands, acquiring talismanic qualities as the fortunes of each of its new owners are transformed.

This was an impulse buy and while I enjoyed the descriptions of the brasserie and Daniel’s repast, overall I found it far too light and frothy. I suppose it was meant to be a fable of a time that no longer exists – one where no-one goes out for dinner and spends all their time texting ‘friends’ or drinks a full bottle of wine and then drives home.

End Notes

The Dinner by Herman Koch is published in the UK by Atlantic Books. Koch is a Dutch author who has also worked as a television actor and newspaper columnist.

The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain is published by Gallic Books. Laurain was born in Paris where he has worked as a journalist and indulged his passion for collecting antiques. His next novel is due to be published later in 2015.

 

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