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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.

 

Sunday Salon: Plans go Adrift

sundaysalonThis was a week which didn’t quite turn out the way I had planned.

It did start on a high note as the first edition of Shiny New Books plopped into my in box. Many of you will have already seen this but for the uninitiated I should explain that this is a new quarterly on line bookish magazine created by four UK based bloggers (Annabel, Victoria, Simon and Harriet). I was thrilled to be invited to contribute to the first issue with a review of Jim Crace’s Harvest. I knew this would be a good quality magazine because the four people are seasoned reviewers of some 30 years experience between them and know a lot about the literary world. I wasn’t prepared for just how good it would be however – scores of reviews and articles and all high quality. Do take a look and sign up for the newsletter (I warn you now that your reading wish list will likely get longer as a result.)

After that high spot, things went a little downhill.

Firstly, the magazine I’d bought which promised to show me many smart techniques for improving this blog using WordPress, turned out to be a mistake. Not the publishers’ fault, I should have studied it more closely. The tips were good, but the problem is that they seemed to work only if you have the self-hosted version available at WordPress.org not the fully-hosted wordpress.com version which is what I have. So the plug ins which you need to do cool things with images and tagging are not available. Which meant all my plans to get this blog into better shape went out of the window. 

And then, despite promising myself that I would devote time to catching up on all the reviews I have yet to write, how many did I actually do? None. Procrastination was one factor (I do seem to take an inordinate amount of time to actually decide what to write). The other was that I only had the use of an iPad since I was away from home and the WordPress system doesn’t seem to be that compatible with iPad. Text jumps around and if you try and do copy paste, you can’t seem to get the cursor to land exactly where you want to paste the text. I gave up…..

On the plus side though instead of blogging and writing, I could spend the time reading and finishing both the Guernsey Literary & Potato Pie Society (if this hadn’t been a book club read I wouldn’t have bothered finishing it) and Keri Hulme’s The Bone People which was much better than I expected it to be.

Next week I’ll be starting to think what books to take with me on a short holiday to Italy jus after Easter. Ideally I’d like something set in Italy but I don’t seem to have anything on the shelves that fits the bill and I haven’t come up with anything yet that I can go out and buy. Any suggestions/recommendations from you would be welcome – if possible of something set in Verona/Milan or that region…….

Sunday Salon: blogging secrets revealed

sundaysalonI’ve been blogging now for more than a year but it still feels like I’m in the primary grade class in terms of what I know and understand about the art of blogging.

That began to change this week as I read through an early reviewers copy of The Blogger’s Survival Guide, courtesy of LibraryThing. It’s a how-to guide written by two women authors who are experienced bloggers using content from a site they established thesocialmediapanel.com.

Some of the content is fairly standard and even for someone as wet behind the ears as I am, it felt like fairly basic guidance about creating content, checking grammar etc. But then we got into the more technical and advanced stuff and some gems of info. Here are the gems I found.

5 Useful Blogging Tips

  1. Be careful about the size of images used or you’ll make the page slow to load which will irritate readers. Avoid pulling the picture into the page and then resizing. Get it to the size you want first
  2. Set up a blogging schedule. Work out how much time you have to spare each week and how to allocate it against the various tasks of writing posts, engaging in social media, search engine optimisation, promotions and (if this is relevant for you) how to use the site to generate income. Now these women clearly have about double the time I have available in an ordinary week to spend on blogging but there were still some great tips about  being more efficient with the time available.
  3. Understand search engine optimisation (SEO) extremely well if you want search engines to find you. First step is to discover some key word phrases relevant to your content – use google analytics to see how frequently people search using those terms.
  4. Try to keep your titles to max of 4 words and avoid commonly occurring words like in, we, I, me etc
  5. Follow the tips at GTmetrix.com to learn how to speed up the performance of your site. Remember that readers are impatient and if the page takes a long time to load, they’ll click away

WordPress Users Tips

My other gold mine find this week was a WordPress Tips blog that is packed with tutorials and detailed instructions on how to get your pages to look the way you want. I followed the guide on how to create tables so my list of reviews was easier to navigate (something I couldn’t figure out at all using WordPress’s own instructions). It took me some time to get used to writing code but I got there in the end and was delighted with the result. You can see the effect on one of my book review listings pages. Highly recommend you take a look at the WordPress Tips blog.

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