My 2018 Reading Challenges – an update!

Haven’t been checking in much with my Reading Challenges of 2018 so far – consider myself told off!! – so it is time for me to catch up and see how I’m going – and see what is left to be read and should I be panicking already!!
This is from the GoodReads group The Book Vipers and the challenge is to read a book that fits the titles below! There are 3 levels that can be done – 9 squares, 16 squares or the full 25! I’m aiming for the 25 so we will see how we go!
Thankfully my reading choices so far in 2018 have helped me fill in a few of these squares so will add the titles of the ones I’ve already completed. Will leave the others blank as I’m still not 100% decided on what to read in these categories – any suggestions still greatfully received and welcomed of what you think I should add to the list!!

 

 

A Classic  – 
A Book About Money – 
A Book Under 100 Pages – The Victorian Chaise Longue by Marghanita Laski 
A Book Of Poems – Helium by Rudy Francisco
Free Choice – The Antipodeans by Greg McGee
A Book Set In Another Country –  The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi
A Translated Book – We Were The Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard / David Warriner
True Or Fictional Crime – Too Close To Breathe by  Olivia Kiernan
A Book With An Animal In The Title – The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young
Book Vipers Monthly Read  – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Non Fiction Book –  The Last Wilderness by Neil Ansell
A Debut Book – The Feed by Nick Clark Windo
Book From A Small Publisher  –  
A Biography – 
A Book You Have Borrowed   
Free Choice – The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans
A Banned Book – 
A Book with a Food in the Title  –  
Free Choice – The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse
A Shortlisted Book – 
A Book Over 500 Pages  – 
An Award Winner – 
Second Book In A Series – 
A Book About Books  – 
Science Fiction Or Fact  – READY PLAYER ONE by ERNEST CLINE
 
📚📚📚📚📚
 
I think I’m doing better than I thought! Still lots to hunt out though and keep me entertained for the rest of the year!

My Year of Persephone – Reading Challenge 2018 Update!!

Greetings all!! Just thought I’d share a little update of how I’m getting on with one of my Reading Challenges this year! I’ve been collecting Persephone Books now for a while and have a nice shelf of them all, but hadn’t managed to fit them into my reading schedule! So my challenge was to read one a month and start enjoying these beautiful books!

 

And the update news is that the challenge is going extremely well!!   It is now the 12th January and I’ve managed to read 2!!! GO ME!!!  And now I’m kicking myself that I’ve not picked them up earlier as the 2 I begun with have been delightful to read and just made me want to read more…… so much more so in fact that that there may have been some extra Persephone purchasing going on (thanks to Abe Books so they’re fab second hand copies!) so more are on their way!

Will share my reviews first on the ones I’ve read and then will show the newbies that are heading my way – so the Reading Challenge may well be doubled…. or is that going a little OTT so early on?!

MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY by WINIFRED WATSON

Miss Pettigrew, an approaching-middle-age governess, was accustomed to a household of unruly English children. When her employment agency sends her to the wrong address, her life takes an unexpected turn. The alluring nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, becomes her new employer, and Miss Pettigrew encounters a kind of glamour that she had only met before at the movies. Over the course of a single day, both women are changed forever.

What a delightful book! Don’t know why it took me so long to pick it up and read it!

A funny, sweet and endearing look at the life of Miss Pettigrew over 24 hours as her life changes beyond recognition as she turns up at the wrong address looking for a job as a nanny, and ends up becoming embroiled in the life of nightclub singer Delysia LaFosse and all that entails!!

I loved how Miss Pettigrew seemed to throw caution to the wind in this new situation – she had been stuck in a rut with her life for so long, and would always live life ‘the right way’ but she embraced the new people she met and I think it was one of those friendships where both women ended up needing each other and learning from one another.   Highly recommended!

THE GARDENER’S NIGHTCAP by MURIEL STUART

   Muriel Stuart was a successful and well-known poet during and just after the First World War. She then had two children, gave up writing poetry and took to gardening with enormous enthusiasm and dedication. She wrote only two books, Fool’s Garden (1936), about creating a garden in Surrey, and Gardener’s Nightcap (1938). After the war, for thirty years, she was a well-known columnist for gardening magazines. Although a great beauty, Muriel Stuart was shy and self-contained – and happiest in her garden.

This work of hers is indeed a ‘nightcap’: a soothing tonic to take in small doses just before bed. The subjects covered are many and variegated. They include: Meadow Saffron, Dark Ladies, Better Goose-berries, Good King Henry (‘quite a good substitute for asparagus’), The Wild Comes Back and Phlox Failure. Each of these pieces is only a few lines in length yet tells the gardener far more than extensive essays or manuals. 

I found this to be a fabulous little book perfect for any gardener! It was full of interesting facts, very handy hints and the authors’ own views on the world of gardening and found myself searching out online many of the plants mentioned as to get a feeling of what she was describing, so some illustrations would have been a lovely addition!

Will definitely be picking this book up again – it’s perfect for dipping in and out of! Really enjoyable!

BOOKS ON THEIR WAY!!

CHEERFUL WEATHER FOR THE WEDDING by JULIA STRACHEY

The author was a niece of Lytton Strachey and was well-known in Bloomsbury circles; she was the subject of Julia, a memoir in her own words by Frances Partridge, who wrote a new Preface for our edition. This sardonic and beautifully written novella about a family in Forster territory was first published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press in 1932. ‘As delightful and perceptive today as it no doubt was seventy years ago: on her wedding day a girl knows she is about to make a serious mistake’ (The Bookseller); ‘a brilliant, bittersweet upstairs-downstairs comedy’ wrote Shena Mackay in the Guardian.

OPERATION HEARTBREAK by DUFF COOPER

Willie Maryngton always wanted to go to war. But he was born just too late to see action in the first world war, and it was a long wait until the second. Would he ever have his chance to be a hero?

STILL MISSING by BETH GUTCHEON

Alex Selky, going on seven, kissed his mother goodbye and set off for school, a mere two blocks away. He never made it. Desperate to find him, his mother begins a vigil that lasts for days, then weeks, then months. She is treated first as a tragic figure, then as a grief-crazed hysteric, then as a reminder of the bad fortune that can befall us all. Against all hope, despite false leads and the desertions of her friends and allies she believes with all her heart that somehow, somewhere, Alex will be found alive.

Beth Gutcheon builds a heartrending suspense that culminates in a climax you will never forget.

THE CROWDED STREET by WINIFRED HOLTBY

Muriel, who believes that ‘men do as they like’ whereas women ‘wait to see what they will do’, lives in a town in Yorkshire waiting – for what? She tries to conform to the values of her snobbish, socially ambitious mother; she tries to be ‘attractive’ to men.

Throughout the description of life in small-town ‘Marshington’, Winifred Holtby expressed her conviction that young women should be allowed to live away from home, to work, to develop as personalities away from their families, to shake off the ties that many mothers seemed to think it was their prerogative to impose on their daughters

So, dilemma now is what to pick up next on the Persephone shelf!!  Tempted to pick off all the smaller novels first and then take my time with the ‘chunkier’ copies!!   

And this is why I love reading challenges!!   Gives me the kick up the bum that I sometimes need when faced with so many reading options!! 😉

HAPPY READING!!

2018 Reading Challenge #2 – Magic Square

I have decided to join in with another Reading Challenge for 2018 and this one is courtesy of the wonderful The Book Vipers – GoodReads group and looks set to test us all – mainly in searching out titles to fit all the topics! I may be requesting suggestions for some of them so get your thinking caps on please! I need help… in more ways than one!!

So the challenge is to read a book that fits the titles below! There are 3 levels that can be done – 9 squares, 16 squares or the full 25! I’m aiming for the 25 so we will see how we go!

Have already started a little looksie through my shelves to see what books I can get read that fit the topics! Here’s my initial list – with a number of gaps! – so hopefully I can complete the challenge!

A Classic  – lots of candidates on my bookshelves so will choose later!
A Book About Money – struggling with this one so any suggestions welcome!!
A Book Under 100 Pages – not found any on my shelves yet so might have to go shopping!
A Book Of Poems – very poor poetry knowledge so where should I start?!
Free Choice

A Book Set In Another Country –  The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi

A Translated Book – On The Bright Side by Hendrik Groen

True Or Fictional Crime – 

A Book With An Animal In The Title – THE CROW ROAD by IAIN BANKS

Book Vipers Monthly Read  
Non Fiction Book –  RHAPSODY IN GREEN by CHARLOTTE MENDELSON

A Debut Book – THE MERMAID AND MRS HANCOCK by IMOGEN HERMES GOWAR

Book From A Small Publisher  –  HOLLOW SHORES by GARY BUDDEN

A Biography – FINGERS IN THE SPARKLE JAR by CHRIS PACKHAM

A Book You Have Borrowed   – will raid the library!
Free Choice

A Banned Book – tempted to go Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland or would you recommend something else?!
A Book with a Food in the Title  –  BITTER FRUITS by ALICE CLARK-PLATTS

Free Choice

A Shortlisted Book – THEIR BRILLIANT CAREERS by RYAN O’NEILL

A Book Over 500 Pages  – THE CROW GIRL by ERIK AXL SUND – 750 pages!!
 
An Award Winner – 

Second Book In A Series – SHADOWBLACK by SEBASTIEN de CASTELL

A Book About Books  – VILLAGE BOOKS by CRAIG MCLAY
Science Fiction Or Fact  – READY PLAYER ONE by ERNEST CLINE
 
So any suggestions or help you have for me would be most welcome! Free choices will probably be from my NetGalley shelves – I WILL get that under control in 2018!!  I will carry on my search and may even end up changing some of my initial choices – that’s what normally happens! – but i’m looking forward to this challenge and trying a few different kinds of books!!

2018 Reading Challenge – A Year of Persephone Books #readingchallenge #persephonebooks

Still trawling the internet trying to decide what Reading Challenges to undertake in 2018 – there’s so many that are calling me!! HELP!!

But the uppermost aim of the challenge must be to get books on my shelves READ!! There are way too many just sitting there looking pretty and not being opened!!  So that is why one of the challenges I will be setting myself is the PERSEPHONE BOOK CHALLENGE – I started collecting their gorgeous books a couple of years ago now after spotting a couple in a charity shop, and have added to the shelves since then!! So now there are 13 of the grey stunners on a special shelf… now is the time for me to read them!!  The plan is to read 12 – one a month – but hopefully I can get them all read as they differ in length!!  So here’s a look at the titles I have ahead of me in 2018 thanks to Persephone Books.

The Priory by Dorothy Whipple

The setting for this, the third novel by Dorothy Whipple Persephone have published, is Saunby Priory, a large house somewhere in England which has seen better times. We are shown the two Marwood girls, who are nearly grown-up, their father, the widower Major Marwood, and their aunt; then, as soon as their lives have been described, the Major proposes marriage to a woman much younger than himself – and many changes begin.

There were no windows by Norah Hoult

This 1944 novel is about memory loss and is the only book we know of, apart from Iris about Iris Murdoch (and arguably There Were No Windows is wittier and more profound), on this subject. Based on the last years of the writer Violet Hunt, a once-glamorous woman living in Kensington during the Blitz who is now losing her memory, the novel’s three ‘acts’ describe with insight, humour and compassion what happens to ‘Claire Temple’ in her last months. ‘A quite extraordinary book,’ was the verdict of Cressida Connolly in the Spectator, ‘unflinchingly, blackly funny, brilliantly observed and terrifying.’ And because Claire Temple is an unrepentant snob, ‘the novel gives a sly account of the end of an entire way of life.’

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

Miss Pettigrew, an approaching-middle-age governess, was accustomed to a household of unruly English children. When her employment agency sends her to the wrong address, her life takes an unexpected turn. The alluring nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, becomes her new employer, and Miss Pettigrew encounters a kind of glamour that she had only met before at the movies. Over the course of a single day, both women are changed forever.

Gardener’s Nightcap by Muriel Stuart

Muriel Stuart was a successful and well-known poet during and just after the First World War. She then had two children, gave up writing poetry and took to gardening with enormous enthusiasm and dedication. She wrote only two books, Fool’s Garden (1936), about creating a garden in Surrey, and Gardener’s Nightcap (1938). After the war, for thirty years, she was a well-known columnist for gardening magazines. Although a great beauty, Muriel Stuart was shy and self-contained – and happiest in her garden.

This work of hers is indeed a ‘nightcap’: a soothing tonic to take in small doses just before bed. The subjects covered are many and variegated. They include: Meadow Saffron, Dark Ladies, Better Goose-berries, Good King Henry (‘quite a good substitute for asparagus’), The Wild Comes Back and Phlox Failure. Each of these pieces is only a few lines in length yet tells the gardener far more than extensive essays or manuals.

Gardener’s Nightcap, a bestseller in its year of first publication, is illustrated by charming Rex Whistler-type drawings. And we end with the opening sentence: ‘There is an hour just before dark, when the garden resents interference.
Its work, no less than the gardener’s, is done. Do not meddle with the garden at that hour. It demands, as all living creatures demand, a time of silence…’

Gardeners’ Choice by Evelyn Dunbar 

The writing is quite serious and is for the truly dedicated gardener – there are detailed descriptions of the plants that the two devoted gardeners would ideally choose for a garden. But the main delight of the book is the drawings – black and white illustrations that have never been reproduced since their first publication in 1937.

The New House by Lettice Cooper

‘All that outwardly happens in The New House,’ writes Jilly Cooper, ‘is over one long day a family moves from a large imposing secluded house with beautiful gardens to a small one overlooking a housing estate. But all the characters and their relationships with each other are so lovingly portrayed that one cares passionately what happens even to the unpleasant ones. ‘The New House, first published in 1936, reminds me of my favourite author Chekhov, who so influenced Lettice’s generation of writers. Like him, she had perfect social pitch and could draw an arriviste developer as convincingly as a steely Southern social butterfly.’

‘It is tempting to describe Rhoda Powell, the 30-plus, stay-at-home daughter of a widowed mother, as Brookneresque,’ wrote the reviewer in the Guardian, ‘even though Lettice Cooper wrote this wonderfully understated novel several decades before Anita Brookner mapped the defining features of quietly unhappy middle-class women.’ While Kate Chisholm in The Spectator described Lettice Cooper as ‘an intensely domestic novelist, unraveling in minute detail the tight web of family relations’ but one who is also ‘acutely aware of what goes on beyond the garden gate. The exposé of a family under strain because of changing times is curiously more vivid and real than in many novels about family life written today.’

Greengates by RC Sherriff

A man retires from his job but finds that never were truer words said than ‘for better, for worse but not for lunch’. His boredom, his wife’s (suppressed and confused) dismay at the quiet orderliness of her life being destroyed, their growing tension with each other, is beautifully and kindly described.

Then one day they do something they used to do more often – leave St John’s Wood and go out into the countryside for the day. And that walk changes their lives forever: they see a house for sale, decide to move there, and the nub of the book is a description of their leaving London, the move, and the new life they create for themselves.

Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary by Ruby Ferguson

The Countess of Lochlule marries Sir Hector, owner of the estate next to ‘Keepsfield’, the palatial Scottish mansion where she lives. But one day she meets someone on a park bench in Edinburgh. This novel is about dreams and the hard world of money and position and their relations to one another.

The Far Cry by Emma Smith

Teresa’s elderly, willful father drags her off to India to spare her from the clutches of her mother.

Greenery Street by Denis Mackail

PG Wodehouse described this novel as ‘so good that it makes one feel that it’s the only possible way of writing a book, to take an ordinary couple and just tell the reader all about them.’

Greenery Street can be read on two levels – it is a touching description of a young couple’s first year together in London, but it is also a homage – something rare in fiction – to happy married life.

Ian and Felicity Foster are shown as they arrive at 23 Greenery Street, an undisguised and still unchanged Walpole Street in Chelsea. Their uneventful but always interesting everyday life is the main subject of a novel that evokes the charmingly contented and timeless while managing to be both funny and profound about human relations.

Denis Mackail was a grandson of Edward Burne-Jones on his mother’s side and son of JW Mackail, the eminent classical scholar ; his sister was the novelist Angela Thirkell. He wrote nearly a book a year for thirty years.

The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Shuttle is about American heiresses marrying English aristocrats; by extension it is about the effect of American energy, dynamism and affluence on an effete and impoverished English ruling class. Sir Nigel Anstruthers crosses the Atlantic to look for a rich wife and returns with the daughter of an American millionaire, Rosalie Vanderpoel. He turns out to be a bully, a miser and a philanderer and virtually imprisons his wife in the house. Only when Rosalie’s sister Bettina is grown up does it occur to her and her father that some sort of rescue expedition should take place. And the beautiful, kind and dynamic Bettina leaves for Europe to try and find out why Rosalie has, inexplicably, chosen to lose touch with her family. In the process she engages in a psychological war with Sir Nigel; meets and falls in love with another Englishman; and starts to use the Vanderpoel money to modernize ‘Stornham Court’.

The book’s title refers to ships shuttling back and forth over the Atlantic (Frances Hodgson Burnett herself traveled between the two countries thirty-three times, something very unusual then).

The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens

The Winds of Heaven is a 1955 novel about ‘a widow, rising sixty, with no particular gifts or skills, shunted from one to the other of her more or less unwilling daughters on perpetual uneasy visits, with no prospect of her life getting anything but worse’ (Afterword). One daughter is the socially ambitious Miriam living in commuter belt with her barrister husband and children; one is Eva, an aspiring actress in love with a married man; and the third is Anne, married to a rough but kindly Bedfordshire smallholder who is the only one who treats Louise with more than merely dutiful sympathy. The one relation with whom she has any empathy is her grandchild.

The Happy Tree by Rosalind Murray

‘A 1926 novel which begins with the death of a young man during the war, flashes back to his happy childhood shared with the young woman who is the narrator, and then describes how the war – inevitably – took them unawares, destroyed their happiness and has left her, the young woman, emotionally maimed. ‘

 

A variety of books there for me to get through in 2018! Hopefully I can get through all of them within the year! Has anyone read any of the Persephone books? I’ve seen good reviews of a number of these and really looking forward to seeing if my reading likes will be challenged and maybe a few new favourite authors will be found!

 

HAPPY READING!!