Reading Challenge Wrap Up

Hello lovelies!

So, with a mere 10 hours to go, I managed to complete both the #read harder 2018 reading challenge and the Popsugar reading challenge 2018. This was after a particularly depressing comment made about a week ago where I realised that I still had two massive books left to read to finish both challenges. So, on the advice of the book blogging community I decided to forego the usual festive tv watching with my family and concentrate on reading instead. 

And I’ve done it. Yay!

I’ve either already reviewed each book, or I will do over the forthcoming weeks, but I thought I’d share a few highlights…

Top five books that I enjoyed the most
Oh, the Princess Bride by William Goldman. I just loved it. Everything about it was wonderful.

Elephant Moon by John Sweeney was a lush, tropical jem of a novel. Very British, very colonial, but still charming and exciting. Plus – baby elephants!

The Roanoak Girls by Amy Engel was a fabulous mixture of sadness, intrigue and suspense that had me hooked from the beginning.

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey was brilliant, exciting and was difficult to put down. Despite not being a fan of horror, I absolutely loved this book (possibly because it’s not that scary). It ticked all the boxes for me.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu was an absolutely beautiful graphic novel. I wanted to frame every page and put it on my wall. Definitely one to savour/re-read.

Most surprising novel
Toast by Nigel Slater really shocked me, as I usually can’t stand his cookery programmes. I find there’s something intensely irritating about him. However, his memoir was beautiful, cleverly written and very touching. I fully expected to hate it but I actually really enjoyed it.

Most satisfying book
The Clan of the Cave Bear was a mammoth novel to tackle (and was also one that I left until half way through December to start). Luckily, it was very engaging and I whizzed through it.

Book that was furthest out of my comfort zone
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov was a real test to see through to the end. Some parts made me feel physically sick. I don’t think I would have finished it if it hadn’t been part of the reading challenge – I’m kind of glad that I did though.

Novel that you loved, but no-one else seems to know about
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill was a wonderful book, but I don’t think many bloggers picked up on it. On the face of it, it’s not my thing at all – I suppose it would broadly be defined as romance – but it’s a great story with a magical element that I really enjoyed.

Most challenging category
I really struggled to find a book published by a micropress, but I eventually came across Nasty Women by various authors, a diverse collection of essays about what it’s like to be female in the 21st century. I loved reading about this topic from such different perspectives and would highly recommend it for it’s intersectional perspectives.

Most hilarious novel
The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy is probably the funniest book I’ve ever read. A great recommendation if you’re feeling down and need a little pick me up.

Books that left a lasting impression on me
Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley actually made me get up and go for a jog. It also helped enormously with injuries, technical details about foot placement etc. It’s a great, funny book in it’s own right but it’s also a useful guide to anyone who runs.

Also, I defy anyone to read the poetry of Primo Levi and not be profoundly moved by it. His descriptions of the horror of the holocaust, his struggle to come to terms with what happened but his ultimate acceptance of the situation was actually life changing.

Least favourite books
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake was just sooooo dull. I didn’t get it at all. I have no idea why people think it’s brilliant.

The Hundred Lives of Lizzie Loveitt by Chelsea Sedoti seems to have been loved by lots of people, but I thought it was total rubbish. I’m probably too old to get it!

The Book of Mirrors by E. O. Chirovia was really badly written, despite having a great opening chapter. Avoid!

Book that introduced me to something new
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie taught me all about the civil war and the founding of Biafra, something that I knew literally nothing about. It’s obviously harrowing, but deeply moving and very engaging.

Book that made me want to read more in the series/from the same author
Again, the Clan of the Cave Bear was super engaging, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Ayla next.

Similarly, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami just keeps getting better. This year I read book two, and I can’t wait to get stuck into book three.

I would have said M.R. Carey, but I did read the subsequent novel to The Girl with all the Gifts (Fellside) and it was a complete let down. I believe there’s a prequel to The Girl with all the Gifts which I might read, but in all honesty the book was so great that I don’t want to ruin it.

So – did any of you complete any reading challenges this year? Do you agree/disagree with my choices? Let me know in the comments!

The Versatile Blogger Award


Hurrah! A book tag!

Thank you so much to Steph at Lost Purple Quill for nominating me for this! I adore tags, and it’s always lovely to be nominated! 

The Rules:

Display the award on your blog. Thank the blogger that nominated you and provide a link to their blog. Share 7 facts about yourself. Nominate 10 bloggers for the award and provide links to their blog.

7 Random Facts

1. I absolutely love dogs – ALL DOGGIES EVERYWHERE. I don’t own one but I really would love to. Particular favourites include Beagles and Chow Chows. Oh good God, I would die of happiness if someone gave me a Chow Chow puppy. I’m sure they would wreck my house but CUTENESS OVERLOAD!!!

2. My main hobby (apart from reading – more on that in a sec) is gardening. I’ve recently got an allotment which is draining my time and money in all new and unexpected ways. Today my large compost bin arrived and I also bought some strawberries and raspberry canes. There’s a lot of weeding and clearing still to do but I’ve got quite a lot of fruit and veg either planted up direct or living in my greenhouse.

3. I used to play roller derby, until I got super injured. I really miss being part of the team, skating in general and hitting other girls for fun. It never fails to amaze me how people judge you for being a skater – about 50% say “I can’t imagine YOU doing that” and the other half say “you must be pretty badass then”. Nope! I just liked playing roller derby. Get over it.

4. I have a massively high pain threshold… as I found out when I broke my leg in four places playing roller derby, stuck some frozen peas on it, went to sleep then got up and went to work. I only found out it was broken because I happened to see our Occupational Health nurse and she sent me straight to hospital. I now have two plates and a bolt through my ankle holding my leg together. I didn’t even need painkillers after the operation. The nurses called me Iron Woman!

5. I like really heavy music, as well as a wide variety of other stuff. People are always surprised when I drive up listening to Napalm Death! Other favourite bands are everything from the Smiths, Kate Bush and Depeche Mode to Ministry, Metallica and White Zombie. I’m going to see the Flaming Lips in a few months and I seriously cannot wait.

6. I’m a weird reader. I usually have at least five but as many as twelve books on the go at any one time. I like to choose something from each genre and dip in and out of them all. I didn’t know this was odd until I happened upon a blog post last month where everyone was saying that they could only read one book at a time. No wonder I get through two books a week.

7. I own a second property that I’m doing up to rent out. This has meant a huge learning curve for my practical skills. Last weekend I re-pointed a wall (filled in the crumbling cement between the bricks) which was actually really enjoyable.

Also, I’m a feminist, a comic book nerd and a happy little pokemon trainer (I had to squeeze these in).

I nominate:

By Hook or by Book
Keeper of Pages

Sorry if you’ve already been tagged! I look forward to hearing all about you!

Lucinda x

The Sunshine Blogger Award


I’ve been nominated for my very first award! Yay! Thank you so much to Icebreaker694 who put me forward for this! They have a fantastic blog that you should totally go and look at right now. Go on, off you go! Then come back and finish reading my post 🙂

Thank the person who nominated you.
Answer 11 questions set by the person who nominated you.
Nominate 11 bloggers to receive the award and write them 11 new questions to answer.

Questions set by Icebreaker 694:

1. What type of YouTube videos do you usually watch?
Usually music videos, or how to guides. The last one was to mend my dishwasher, yawn! Being an adult is boring.

2. If you could undo one thing that happened in the history of the Earth, what would it be?
I’m not sure. There’s obvious stuff like wars – I live in what would have been a medieval city if it hadn’t been completely flattened in WW2 so it would be great to see what that would have looked like (plus, you know, saving the lives of millions of people). On a personal note though, I would like to have stopped my friend from dying from a brain tumor when she was only 20. We all still miss her very much.

3. What is your most anticipated book on your TBR?
There’s two – The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M Auel and Assassins Apprentice by Robin Hobb. I feel like I missed the boat with both of these books so I’m looking forwards to them – especially as I’ve heard only good things about them. 
4. Do you have a favorite book publisher? If so then who?
Yes, Virago. In particular l love their VMC collection, which is 20th century classic books written by women in beautiful special edition covers:

I’ve been collecting them for a few years (I even wrote a blog post last year on how much I love them).

5. What is the most random picture you found on the internet?
A picture of my cat’s boyfriend (Jasper) popped up on my Facebook feed because my friend found him in her garden and wanted to keep him! I had to let her know that he belonged to my neighbours and that she had to give him back! Either that or my hard-as-nails, macho friend dressed as a teenage goth with full on eyeliner and nail polish. We were all teenage goths but I just couldn’t picture him being like that.

6. What’s your opinions on graphic novel remakes of an original series?
I haven’t read any graphic novel remakes but I really enjoy graphic novels in general and I think they can only add to the fandom.

7. What do you like to do in your free time?
Gardening! I’ve just got an allotment. I’m growing:
– apples
– pears
– plums
– hazelnuts
– rhubarb
– strawberries
– redcurrants
– blueberries
– tomatoes
– potatoes
– carrots
– onions
– peas
– beans
– parsnips
– sweetcorn
– salad leaves
Plus herbs in a few pots in the garden.

I’m so excited!

8. If you could bring a book/TV show character to life, who would it be?
Severus Snape, always (lol). Mostly so I could look after him. And he could teach my magic.

9. If you could choose your last words, what would they be?
Don’t look in my knicker drawer after I’ve gone! The less said about that the better.

10. What type of animal would you be if you could turn into one?
Chow chow dogs are my spirit animals. They’re big and fluffy, look like bears and don’t like exercise. I’d like to be a pampered pet that just lies around all day eating and sleeping.

11. If you had to choose one book that you could read forever, what book would it be?
If I could only ever read one book for the rest of my life? It would have to be something big and difficult so that it would keep me entertained. Maybe Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon? 

My questions:
1. Have you ever read a book that’s changed your life? If so, how?
2. What book did you hate as a child? Why?
3. If you could spend 24 hours living someone else’s life, who would you choose and why?
4. What would the title of your autobiography be?
5. How do you imagine yourself 10 years from now?
6. What big, obvious, hugely popular books have you not read?
7. What are your thoughts on audiobooks?
8. Have you ever been to a festival or convention?
9. If you could go back in time and re-do one experience or event, what would it be?
10. Can you estimate how many books you’ve read in your lifetime?
11. What three things have you done in your life that you think have improved you as a person?

I nominate:
The orangutan librarian
Zuky the book bum
By Hook or by Book
Lara, the book heathen
Melanie Noell Bernard
Keeper of Pages