Monday, 17 August 2015

Bout of Books 14.0: Goals and Updates from Monday to Wednesday

Bout of Books

THE GOALS

I hadn't actually planned on joining up to do Bout of Books 14.0 but, as usual, I saw everybody getting started with the hashtag #boutofbooks on Twitter and decided to join in! It was my birthday yesterday and I'm really excited about the books that I got from Ellie, Katie and Laura so I'm using their lovely and thoughtful gifts as my pile for the week (which I'll include a picture of when I can wrestle the laptop back from Boyfriend/work out how to format one on the tablet...)! First up, though, I'll be finishing off The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder by J. W. Ironmonger, which I'm about halfway through and really enjoying. I'm going to keep the goals to strictly reading because I'm not sure how much time I'll have. Ideally, I'll do a couple of challenges and plenty of blog hopping but we'll see. 

I'll be updating this post until I feel like it's got long enough and on Twitter as @litaddictedbrit - let's do this!

THE UPDATES 

Day 1: Monday 17th August

Audiobook % Listened To: 12.4% of The Lost Library by A. M. Dean
Pages Read: 23 pages
Books Read FromThe Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder by J. W. Ironmonger
Totals so far: 12.4% of The Lost Library; 23 pages of Max Ponder

Thoughts from Monday:  The page count might not be high but I'm planning on getting some more reading done after I've posted this. Max Ponder is remarkably chipper for a book about a man decapitating his dead best friend and there's something so irresistibly charming about the narrator's memories of Max. And the writing is fabulous. A good way to start a read-a-thon!


Day 2: Tuesday 18th August

Audiobook % Listened To: 13.1% of The Lost Library by A. M. Dean
Pages Read: 3 pages...
Books Read FromThe Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder by J. W. Ironmonger
Totals so far: 25.5% of The Lost Library; 23 pages of Max Ponder

Thoughts from Tuesday:  I'm posting a bit earlier today so that I can slink off and get curled up with my book! I'm flying through my audiobook so at least some progress is steady!  The Lost Library is a kind of Da Vinci Code-esque, professor-turns-investigator thriller focused on the history of the lost library of Alexandria. Occasional info dump aside, it's fun and the quality of the narration is excellent. The narrator manages to flick between American, British and other accents seamlessly and to nail a number of British dialects, which makes the whole book seem so much more...alive!  It's one I'm definitely glad I've listened to rather than read!  Now. Off to read some more Maximilian Ponder :) Hope you've all had a super day 2!


Day 3:  Wednesday 19th August

Audiobook % Listened To: 20% of The Lost Library by A. M. Dean
Pages Read: 20 pages
Books Read FromThe Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder by J. W. Ironmonger
Totals so far: 45.5% of The Lost Library; 46 pages of Max Ponder

Thoughts from Wednesday:  Wow.  I am not at all reading quickly!  To be fair, I'm writing this on Thursday morning because I spent Wednesday evening catching up on Great British Menu and watching Great British Bake Off so it's not a surprise, as such, but it's still not great...onward and upward!


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Read Authors

Look!  A post that includes more than a passing reference to books! Things are looking up.

I've seen responses to this week's Top Ten Tuesday and the idea of checking out my most read authors intrigued me.  I knew a few off the top of my head but for the rest, I headed to GoodReads to fill in the blanks.

1.  Charlaine Harris (12 books) - I've read most of Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series so this didn't surprise me very much.  I'm not sure that I'm exactly pleased about Harris being my 'most read' but the stats don't lie.

2.  Robert Jordan (11 books) - Another that wasn't a surprise.  I've read 11 out of the 13 Wheel of Time books and it's my absolute, hands down favourite fantasy series to this day.  I almost never re-read but I love this series enough to start at the beginning again so that I can get the most of reading the final couple of instalments.  Jordan being on this list makes me happy.

3.  Maria V. Snyder (9 books) - I've actually read all 9 of these books during the lifetime of this blog, which is pretty nifty.  I've read Snyder's Study series, Glass series and Healer series.  The Study series is easily still my favourite of the three but I feel like I can rely on Snyder to deliver very readable fantasy.

4.  J. K. Rowling (7 books) - Obviously.  I also own A Casual Vacancy and the first two Cormoran Strike novels so Rowling's place on this list is pretty much guaranteed for some time to come.

5.  Lian Hearn (5 books) - Ah, another opportunity to extol the virtues of Hearn's Tales of the Otori series.  I can't remember where or how I came across the first in the series (Across the Nightingale Floor) but I quickly hunted down the next two in the trilogy, the epilogue and the prologue (in that order, which I think is the publication order but could just have been me being impatient and reading whatever I found first).  The series is genuinely wonderful - the Japanese setting, the almost-but-not-quite magiclal abilities, the characters, the sprawling plot.  All wonderful.

6.  Stephenie Meyer (5 books) - The Twilight series and the very lacklustre The Host.  Not great literature but somehow addictive.  Meyer's books are widely derided but they got an awful lot of people reading so I don't begrudge her presence on this list.

7.  Gail Carriger (5 books) - I think I only discovered the Parasol Protectorate series because of blogging and could well be the only series where I've reviewed every book individually (starting with Soulless an embarrassingly long time ago).  I know that not everybody gels with the series but I really enjoyed it.

8.  Agatha Christie (5 books) - I'm surprised that Christie didn't feature higher up my list.  Christie is one of my top 'go to' comfort writers; if I'm feeling in need of something that's easy to get swept up in, a Christie mystery never fails to disappoint.  And Then There Were None is one of my favourite books.

9.  Trudi Canavan (4 books) - The Black Magician trilogy is another of my favourite fantasy series.  On the face of it, it's fantasy by numbers, with a haughty magician's guild full of secrets and an untrained mage that could destroy the world if she can't be taught to tame her power, but it's just so good.   I'm still disappointed that Thief's Magic (the first in Canavan's Millennium's Rule trilogy) didn't live up to my admittedly lofty expectations.

Aaand, that's where I'll call it a day.  After Canavan, I have about 17 authors at 3 books each, including Stephen King, Rainbow Rowell, Brent Weeks, Sarah J. Maas and Rick Riordan.

Who are some of your most read authors?  Share, share, share!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Things That Made Me Happy This Week #3

Every time I start to write one of these posts, I tell myself that I'll then get onto writing something vaguely book related to go up during the week and that this week, this week, will be the one where I keep up with comments and generally get back into blogging.  It's not been going especially well so far but I remain hopeful.

1.  SUNSHINE.  So simple and yet so uplifting.  

2.  Harvest time.  Boyfriend and I have a few different types of vegetables growing and on Saturday, we picked and scrubbed loads of potatoes, onions and garlic.  We're definitely not experts but there's something distinctly satisfying about cooking with things you've grown in your own garden.  

3.  Starting a really great book and getting hooked.  I've been super busy lately and not really getting to my books.  It took me months to get through Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon even though I really liked it.  I finally sobbed my way through the ending this week and got excited about picking something new.  I went for The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder, which came Hanna recommended and seemed like a safe bet for something to rekindle my bookish love.  It's quirky and extremely well-written and I'm loving reading it.

4.  Home-made tagliatelle.  I've listened to TV chefs tell me how easy it is to make your own pasta for years and made about a thousand mental notes to give it a go.  My mum happened to ask me what I wanted for my birthday around about one such occasion and I finally decided to just get a pasta machine and get stuck in.  It arrived this week and I opened it early because I knew I'd have the time this weekend to try it out.  We've just tucked into my first effort and I was pleasantly surprised - it really was easy and it was delicious in a simple carbonara.  I see a lot of pasta in my immediate future.

5.  Learning Italian.  When I was doing GCSEs and A Levels, I loved languages.  I did both French German at GCSE and then French A Level and I loved them.  Obviously that was some time ago and this week, on a whim after seeing an advert for Babbel on TV, I decided to start learning Italian.  Boyfriend and I both adore Italy so it seemed like a good choice.  The app is easy to use and so far, I really do feel like I'm learning a lot and it's wonderful.  And at £17.99 for 6 months, it wasn't too expensive either. As long as I can hold a basic conversation with people at bars and in hotels and the like when we're next in Italy on holiday, I'll be happy :)

Share your happy with the group through Ellie at Lit Nerd!  #sharethehappy

Monday, 3 August 2015

Things That Made Me Happy This Week #2

Technically, that should be "Things That Made Me Happy Last Week" but we're just going to ignore that and get stuck in. 

As always, a nod to lovely, lovely Ellie Lit Nerd.

Photo credit
1.  Charcuterie, Pinot Noir and old friends.  When I get busy, the first thing I try to do is retreat and limit my exposure to the outside world where I can.  Last Thursday, though, I ignored my inner quiet girl and went out and drank delicious wine and ate some wonderful hams, cheese and bread in one of my favourite bars in Leeds with a friend I haven't seen in about a year.  It was so, so much fun - we gossiped and giggled and I had such a nice time. My Friday morning run suffered a little but it was worth it.

2.  A weekend at home.  We had a break this weekend and actually managed to spend the whole weekend in and around our home.  I spent 5 hours cleaning the house from top to bottom and catching up on the chores I haven't had time for, we visited our local pub and our local Indian restaurant and generally relaxed.  The power of home is never to be underestimated.

3.  Finishing a book.  I bemoaned in my last post that I hadn't finished a book since the end of May.  On Saturday, that spell broke and I finished The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz.  Sure, it was a book club book that I finished about two weeks after the "meeting" but I enjoyed it and I FINISHED IT so I don't feel as though I've missed out, really.

4.  Sister time.  One of the other (many) consequences of being away a lot has been a significant lack of family time.  On Saturday, my little sister visited - we shopped and chattered away the day before going for some vegetarian Mexican street food and a cheeky glass of wine (or three).  Spending time with her was marvellous and the tostadas were a bonus. 

5.  WEDDING!  I couldn't go without mentioning the first of my bridesmaid stints.  Catering to the whims of two brides at once hasn't been easy but the day came and it was beautiful.  I cried about a hundred times and it was such a fabulous day.  The couple are our best friends and being part of their wedding (I was a bridesmaid and Boyfriend was the Best Man) was something special and made every painstakingly made wedding favour and dress-pinning session absolutely worth it.

Let's #sharethehappy!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Things That Made Me Happy This Week #1

Confession time: I haven't finished a book since we got back from Italy in May.  It's been a busy time at work and it turns out that being a bridesmaid twice over the space of one season is pretty time-consuming.  Between the hen dos, dress fittings and favour making sessions and a more than full time job, there's not been much time for anything else.  And that's without counting the half marathon training and the fact that I'm currently carrying what feels like a million "summer cold" germs and a kilo of phlegm.  I know.  Attractive.  What I'm saying is that I'm exhausted, I'm ill and I have no time to call my own and it's becoming harder and harder to take note of the moments that are happy-making.  That sounds melo-dramatic.  I'm ok.  I'm just tired and I'm begrudging of the fact that I have no time to just sit down and read a book.  Time to remind myself of the things that I have done that have made me happy.

The brain child of the ever wonderful Ellie Lit Nerd, whose blog is one of the best out there.

Bundobust, Leeds
1.  Trying out a new restaurant.  I'm a huge food geek and I love getting to try new restaurants.  This weekend, Boyfriend and I made some time to visit a craft beer and Indian street food bar in Leeds that was a lot of fun.  The food is exclusively vegetarian, which was something new for two staunch carnivores, and we had six small dishes between the two of us so that we could try as much as possible.  Delicious.

2.  Taking a moment to cook for a friend.  One of the girls for whom I am bridesmaiding is my best friend.  Sure, the wedding stuff is driving me crazy but it was nice to send the boys off to the rugby (Boyfriend is the Best Man at the upcoming nuptials) and hang out, watching Clueless and cooking and eating Mexican food.

3.  Bookish gifts.  My job may be busy and it may have played no small part in my current germy condition but on Tuesday, my boss surprised me with a copy of Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee because we'd previously chatted about the impending release and I was obviously looking sorry for myself.  It was a lovely gesture and one that I really, really appreciated.  People can be good.

4.  Planning. It's my birthday in a little under a month and we have a trip to London planned and then we're going to Singapore and Malaysia in September as an advance celebration of Boyfriend's 30th birthday.  Both are finally close enough that we can see the light at the end of the wedding tunnel and start to plan the places that we want to go to and the things we want to see and do.  The September trip in particular has felt like a long time coming and I can't wait.

5.  My Midori.  I wasn't sure how I'd settle into planning and journalling and reviewing note-taking in one place but I love it.  Absolutely adore it.  One month in and I carry it everywhere and am really getting used to it as my go to accessory.  It has my diary in it, kraft pockets that I can stuff things into until I get the time to write about them, little double sided sticky things that I can use to stick in restaurant cards and cinema tickets and what-not so that I can note down things without having to write too much and the paper quality of the "real" Midori notebooks is outstanding.  Journalling helps me clear out my brain and keep my thoughts more ordered.  I get to focus more on what I'm doing and less on what I'm trying not to forget.  It's the best and I can't wait to take it on holiday with me.

Let's #sharethehappy!