Challenge: What’s in a Name 2017/2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, it is time to round-up my reading for the What’s in a Name 2017 challenge; hosted by Charlie at The Worm Hole. This was my second time taking part and the premise is very simple: read books with a title that fits the six categories provided. Here is what I read for this year’s categories:

Woohoo! That’s six out of six which is the challenge well and truly completed this year.

That’s not all though folks! Now it is time to get ready for What’s in a Name 2018, that is again being hosted by Charlie at The Worm Hole. Here are the new categories for next year, and in the brackets are the books I own which I could possibly read for each:

  • The word ‘the’ used twice (The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory or The Virgin of the Wind Rose by Glen Craney or The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier)
  • A fruit or vegetable (Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip)
  • A shape (Heartstones by Kate Glanville or The Loyal Heart by Merry Farmer)
  • A title that begins with Z – can be after ‘The’ or ‘A’ (Zombie edited by Christopher Golden)
  • A nationality (Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier)
  • A season (Summer by Edith Wharton or Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett)

For those new to this challenge it runs from January to December; the books read can be in any format (print, audio, e-book); books cannot overlap categories; and it’s preferred that the books don’t overlap with other challenges. Apart from that I can read what I want in what order I want.

Did you take part this year? Do you fancy taking part next year? Which book do you think I should read first?


Tough Travels: Snarky Sidekicks

Tough Travels is a monthly meme hosted by Fantasy Faction, which, inspired by The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones, spotlights each month a different fantasy trope for us to compile lists and have fun with. Last month we discussed MENTORS. This month’s topic is:


‘Why is everyone so serious all the time?  Perhaps they need a friend that is there with a quick bit of wit to liven up the day… even if the day is looking to quickly turn to blood.’

Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

This was quite a tough topic for me because while I can think of plenty of great sidekicks… I’m not sure I would describe them as ‘snarky’?! However not being one to be defeated, I have had a really good think and here are the ‘snarky’ sidekicks I could think of:

  • Ron Weasley – In J K Rowling’s magical Harry Potter series, Harry’s headstrong and permanently peckish best friend always puts a smile on my face, with a silly quip or with his just plain, outspoken honesty. No sugar-coating from Ron!
  • Rincewind – While this incompetent wizard is a central character in some of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, when we first meet him in The Colour of Magic as the reluctant guide to enthusiastic tourist, Twoflower. His sharp, apathetic running commentary is very funny.
  • Ford Prefect – In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Arthur’s eccentric and joyfully nihilistic alien best friend can always be relied upon in the darkest moments to chip in with his very dark and off-beat humour.
  • Bronn – Together Tyrion and his pragmatic sellsword friend, in George R R Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series, are perhaps the snarkiest pair ever. In fact they seem to be in competition with each other to be the snarkiest of them all!
  • Tom – Finally how could I forget the smart, witty and fish obsessed talking cat, who is the unexpected companion to loner ‘wandering adventurer’ Jasper in The Wanderers by Cheryl Mahoney. I want my own Tom!

Do you like my choices? Who are your favourite snarky sidekicks? Please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s topic too.

Come back next month for: ELVES.

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Ten Bookish Settings I’d Love to Visit

One of the best things about reading is how a great book can transport you away from the humdrum of our daily life to another place, across the world or even to another world. So here are ten fictional book settings, in no particular order, I would love to visit:

  1. Rivendell, The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien – The ‘last friendly home’ in the Misty Mountains is a place of beauty, good hospitality and merry elves.
  2. Villa Dante, The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson – A neglected but beautiful Renaissance villa on the glorious Italian coast.
  3. Hogwarts, Harry Potter series by J K Rowling – A school of magical lessons, great food, colourful characters and adventure!
  4. Highgate House, Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye – An isolated, country house filled with colourful, exotic furnishings and the smell of spices.
  5. Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis – Through the wardrobe is a magical land of talking creatures trapped in an icy spell.
  6. Trelowarth, The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley – The Halletts’ beautiful, old family home surrounded by roses on the Cornish coast.
  7. Cranford, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell – A small, rural Victorian town of women supporting each other in quiet, simple lives of genteel poverty.
  8. Diagon Alley, Harry Potter series by J K Rowling – A hidden, higgledy-piggledy cobblestone street of magical shops in the centre of London.
  9. The Shire, The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien – A rural, rambling and natural idyll where the little hobbits’ live simple, happy lives.
  10. Pemberley, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – The magnificent country estate of the dashing and filthy rich Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Do you like my choices? What bookish places would you like to visit? Also, please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s TTT topic too.

Goodbye November, Hello December 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? Can anyone tell me where November went?! Except for a sunny, albeit cold, trip down south to celebrate my mum’s and stepdad’s birthdays, I am not sure what has kept me so busy for the time to fly by so quick. During this speedy month, I have read:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 1

Firstly, I read another wonderful mystery Season of Storms by, one of my favourite authors, Susanna Kearsley; which swept me away from the cold and wet of the UK to the drama of the gorgeous villa Il Piacere, Italy. Then at the end of the month, I finally finished the classic North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It may have been a slow burner but I did find it a touching and important look into Victorian life and society. This also rounded off nicely my What’s in a Name 2017 challenge, as a title with a compass direction in it.

Alongside these fictions, I also read Christian non-fiction Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung for the return of my church’s book club. A quick, down-to-earth book that offers restful cures for our modern, crazy-busy lives. At the end of the month, I also really enjoyed our small but thought-provoking and lively group meeting to discuss it.

Pick of the Month: Season of Storms

Altogether that is three books completed in November, which makes it my lowest month of the year! However I am a hair’s breadth from finishing The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien, so I can’t feel too bad because if I counted that it would take my total up to my average four books. Also this month, I started reading an interesting history of Cleopatra by Ernle Bradford; I continued listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; and I am eyeing up Sandokan, The Pirates of Malaysia by Emilio Salgari, as my next classic read.

In December, I am looking forward to present buying, mince pies, writing cards, my church’s Christingle service and all the other wonderful things that lead up to the big day… of Christmas! Oh and hopefully, in between all the excitement, I have some quiet time to snuggle up with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book too!

What did you do and read in November? What are your plans for December?

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

There are many wonderful books awaiting me on my bookshelf and Kindle, however here are ten books, ordered alphabetically, I am looking forward to reading this Winter:

  1. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman [re-read] – I am looking forward to finishing my re-read of Pullman’s young adult trilogy, His Dark Materials.
  2. A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King – It will be good to finally read more from King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.
  3. Cauldstane by Linda Gillard – Last year, I was thrilled to top up my Kindle with three of Gillard’s novels. Of those three I fancy reading this first.
  4. The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King by Michael R. Miller – With dragons and a gorgeous cover this book shows great promise!
  5. Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christopher Nicole – This is the first book in Nicole’s historical saga about this famous queen.
  6. Hazard of Shadows by Mike Phillips – After reading The World Below, this book will continue Phillips’ Chronicles of the Goblin King series.
  7. Headline Murder by Peter Bartram – As I failed to get to read my first Crampton mystery in Autumn, I must try harder in Winter!
  8. The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland – Maitland’s historical fiction tends to be on the dark side, so I’ve been saving this for darker months.
  9. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory – After loving The White Queen, I am looking forward to continuing Gregory’s popular Cousins’ War series.
  10. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi – Our December read for my church’s book club.

What are you looking forward to reading this Winter? Also, please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s TTT topic too.

New Books: November 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, here are more new goodies I have added to my Kindle and bookcase in the second half of this month:

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

Firstly, I was very lucky to win e-book copies of new release The Emerald Circus and a new edition of fantasy classic The Forgotten Beasts of Eld in the wonderful Witch Week giveaway, hosted by the lovely Lory at The Emerald City Book Review. Thank you Lory!

Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam by M C Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came by M C Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House by M C Beaton

Agatha Raisin and Love, Lies and Liquor by M C Beaton

Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison by M C Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Busy Body by M C Beaton

And finally, I am also thrilled with this large haul of more instalments from my favourite comfort author M C Beaton’s long-running cosy crime series, and best of all they were all from a charity bookshop. Now I can look forward to plenty more bumbling, amateur investigations with our Agatha!

Do you fancy any of these? What new books have you got recently?

Nonfiction November: Favourites

This is my first year taking part in Nonfiction November, a yearly event that encourages bloggers to read and discuss non-fiction. Sadly I missed Week 1 but I was able to take part in Week 2 and Week 3. Now it is time for Week 4 (Nov. 20 to 24) hosted by Katie @ Doing Dewey:

Nonfiction Favourites: We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favourites.’

While I often re-read my favourite novels, I sadly rarely return to non-fictions I’ve enjoyed. The one non-fiction that I have re-read is Mere Christianity by C S Lewis. A wonderful discussion of the basic beliefs of the Christian faith from the point-of-view of Lewis, a former atheist who went on to write many books sharing his new found faith. What makes this a favourite is the topic and the inspirational, honest and natural style of it. Reading this book is like sitting down and chatting with a mentor over a cup of tea or in Lewis’ case over a pint in ‘The Bird and Baby’.

The only other non-fictions I can think of that I regularly return to in the hunt for new exciting recipes are cookbooks. My particularly favourites being the four The Hairy Dieters cookbooks I have from the nations-favourites: Si King and Dave Myers (better known as The Hairy Bikers). While I am not looking to lose weight particularly, I do love how down-to-earth and well balanced these recipes are.

I think it is such a shame that these are the only favourite non-fictions I can think of. Which has got me thinking now about all those great non-fictions I have that I think I will be putting on my re-read pile!

What are your favourite non-fictions? Please feel free to link in your own posts in the comments below if you have also taken part.