2010 A to Z Challenge

I’ve signed up for the 2010 A-Z Challenge hosted by Becky. The challenge runs from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010 and there are 3 options to choose from:

Authors – Read alphabetically by author. Commit to 26 books.
Titles – Read alphabetically by title. Commit to 26 books.
Authors & Titles – Commit to reading 52 books.

I’m going to try 26 books alphabetically by title.

Books read for this challenge (updated March 30 2010)

A – Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
C – The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
D – The Divine Sacrifice by Tony Hays
E – The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson
F – The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye
I – In a Far Country by Linda Holeman
L – Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin
M – Madame Verona Comes Down the Hill by Dimitri Verhulst
O – O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell
S – Spring Bear by Betsy Connor Bowen
T – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
W – The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

New Book Arrivals – 16th November 2009

I recently read The Quincunx by Charles Palliser and loved it, so I ordered a used copy of The Unburied from play.com. It arrived this week and is now near the top of my TBR pile.

When Dr Courtine is invited to spend the days before Christmas with an old friend he is keen to accept, even though it is twenty years since they last met. On the night Courtine arrives, Austin tells him the story of the town ghost, a story of deadly rivalry and murder two centuries old. Courtine’s real reason for the visit is to pursue an even older mystery. For, if he can track down an elusive eleventh-century manuscript, the existence of which only he believes in, he hopes to dispose of a deadly rivalry of his own. So intent is he upon these ancient mysteries that he fails to notice the malign conspiracy into which he is being lured…

Musing Mondays: Books for Christmas

This week’s MUSING MONDAYS post:

With the holiday season now upon us, have you left any hint – subtle or otherwise – for books family and friends might buy you for Christmas? Do you like to receive books, or do you prefer certificates so you can choose your own?

I love receiving books for Christmas – in fact I would probably be quite happy if I received nothing but books! My family don’t like buying me books without asking first, as they wouldn’t know if I’d already read them, so I usually have to choose the books myself. My Amazon wishlist is growing longer by the day so I always have plenty to choose from!

Review: Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

I chose to read this book as part of the Women Unbound Reading Challenge. I selected this book for Women Unbound because it is the memoirs of a woman who lived through World War I and it’s considered an important example of feminist literature.

I don’t read many non-fiction books or biographies/autobiographies so this was something different for me.

Vera Brittain was born in 1893 and grew up in Buxton, Derbyshire. Her father was the owner of a paper mill, therefore she had a comfortable, privileged childhood. Vera was well-educated and ambitious and longed to break away from what she frequently refers to as her ‘provincial’ life in Buxton. She already considered herself to be a feminist and wanted more out of life than just to leave school and get married like most of the other girls she knew. Her father finally agreed that she could go to Oxford University, but just as she was beginning her studies, war broke out in Europe. With her fiance Roland, brother Edward, and two close friends fighting on the front line, she was unable to concentrate on her studies and decided to enlist as a V.A.D. nurse.

It was fascinating to read a personal account of the effects the war had on one woman’s life and on society as a whole. Reading this book made me realise how little I actually knew about World War I. A lot of the places and events mentioned in the book were unfamiliar to me and left me wanting to find out more.

Rather than just relying on her memory, Brittain uses a number of different sources, including her private diaries and correspondence and verses from poems, some of which were written by Roland or Vera herself. As I read about all the pain and sorrow she was forced to endure, I became completely absorbed in Vera Brittain’s story. I found it very inspirational that despite having her entire world torn apart by the war, she was still able to go on to build a successful career for herself as a novelist, feminist and pacifist.

Although Testament of Youth was a long, demanding and often heartbreaking book, I’m glad I read it and I feel I learned a lot from it.

Highly Recommended

Genre: Non-Fiction (Autobiography)/Pages: 640/Publisher: Virago/Year: 1933/Source: borrowed a copy

The Sunday Salon: 15th November 2009

Books read and reviewed:

This week I reviewed Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I also finished reading Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain this morning. It was not an easy read but I learned a lot from it – I’ll post my review later.

Blog updates:

You may have noticed that I’ve made one small addition to the left sidebar – this is a list of links to international book giveaways. There are not many giveaways which are open to those of us outside the US and Canada, so I’ll try to keep the list updated every time I discover an international giveaway.

I also now have an A-Z list of reviews which I will add to every time I review a book. There are only two books on the list so far because my blog is still so new, but I’m sure the list will soon start to grow!

Finally I want to tell you about a new feature coming soon to this blog – it’s called Great Books and will give me an excuse to revisit some of the great books I read before creating my blog. Although I have a very long TBR list, there are some books that are so good they deserve to be read more than once. Great Books will be an occasional series in which I’ll re-read and review one of my all-time favourites.

Challenge: All About the Brontes

Laura from Laura’s Reviews is hosting a new challenge for 2010 –
All About the Brontes. The challenge runs from January 1st to June 30th 2010 and you need to read, watch or listen to at least 3-6 Bronte-related items.

I would like to read:

Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

If I have time I’d also like to read The Professor and Shirley, both by Charlotte Bronte and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

More information on this challenge here.

Books read for this challenge (Updated 14 February 2010)

1. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Booking Through Thursday: Bad Books

Here’s this week’s question from Booking Through Thursday.

Suggested by JM:

“Life is too short to read bad books.” I’d always heard that, but I still read books through until the end no matter how bad they were because I had this sense of obligation.
That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading.
Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?

I try to only buy books that I think I’ll enjoy, so there are very few books that I actually own that I couldn’t read through to the end.

However, if it’s a book that I’ve borrowed from the library and I find I’m not enjoying it, I would just stop reading. I don’t want to waste time reading a book that doesn’t interest me when there are so many other books I could be reading instead – though if I get halfway through the book before I lose interest I might just skim the last few chapters to find out how it ends.