Nick’s Chapter-a-Day Read-Along – Join Us!

Last year, I took part in Nick’s Chapter-a-day read-along of Les Miserables and enjoyed it so much that I’ve signed up to his 2019 challenge! I know that I would never have had the patience to get through Les Miserables without the read-along and I enjoyed seeing everyone else’s thoughts as we were working our way through the novel. This year, I’m hoping to expand my horizons even further!

So, by popular demand, Nick has chosen four books to read in 2019 which in total have 365 chapters. They are:

 

  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes #quixotereadalong
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas #montecristoreadalong
  • Lillith by George McDonald #lilithreadalong
  • The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens #curiosityshopreadalong

Although the idea is obviously to read one chapter a day, last year I found it easier to read in larger chunks. The beauty of this challenge is that you can structure it to whatever suits you – you can read on ahead or catch up whenever you get the chance!

I’ve copied the below from Nick’s original post about the read along, so if you want to join in you’ve got all the information that you need:

How to Participate in the 2019 Chapter-a-Day Read-Along

  1. Get a copy of each of the four books.
  2. If you have your own blog, write a welcome post explaining why you are joining the read-along and what you hope to gain from it. Leave a link to your post in the comments section on Nick’s original blog post. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave your information in the comments section as well.
  3. Download the daily schedule: Nick’s Chapter a Day Reading Schedule 2019
  4. Commit to reading a chapter a day. If you get behind or race ahead, no worries. Life happens.
  5. If you feel like it, post a line a day from the current chapter on social media, using the hashtags listed above. Nick will be posting to Twitter and Facebook each day and would love to read your thoughts, too. When you post, please respect the reading experience of those who may not know the full story. In other words, no spoilers!
  6. Be sure to subscribe to Nick’s blog to receive any read-along updates.

The 2019 Chapter-a-Day Reading Schedule

Here is the broad outline of the year:

  • Don Quixote: January 1 to May 8 (126 chapters plus 2 prologues = 128 days)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo: May 9 to September 2 (117 chapters = 117 days)
  • Lilith: September 3 to October 19 (47 chapters = 47 days)
  • The Old Curiosity Shop: October 20 to December 31 (73 chapters = 73 days)

Nick’s blog has more information including sign up information, graphics and links to where you can get hold of copies of all the books listed so please check it out – and join us!

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What Lucinda Did…in 2018

Hello Bookworms!

Gosh, I’ve just been flicking through my blog posts from this year and I can’t believe how fast 2018 has gone! I started the year not being particularly serious about blogging, with about 150 followers and no other social media presence. I’m ending the year with over 350 followers, 240 Twitter followers and a far more regular blogging schedule, plus more varied content and participation in the wider blogging community. Oh, and I’m finally writing my posts on a laptop instead of tapping everything out with one finger on my Kindle Fire! I can actually resize images!

I also bought myself this nifty little trolley from Ikea and turned it into a Book Blogging trolley (which the good people of Twitter seemed to really like). I love it so much!

In terms of reading, I’ve read and reviewed 62 books on my blog this year and had several rated five out of five. I was actually surprised at how many poorly rated books I read – something that I’m planning to change in 2019. No more Foxhole Court! I was also surprised at how few books I’d read – I think reading Les Miserables took up quite a lot of time and should count for at least five!

I’ve already talked about my favourite books that I read as part of the Read Harder challenge but I’ve got a few other honourable mentions from my reading total:

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a wonderful novella with layers of symbolism that I found completely enthralling.

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi was a fantastic, twisted book about what happens when a mother’s love becomes obsessive. I was totally engrossed from start to finish by this clever, atmospheric novel.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata was wonderful. I loved the sheer weirdness of this short book – again, the novella was completely multi-layered, packing a huge amount into what initially appears to be a simple story about a woman happy to work in a simple job in a convenience store.

The Lido by Libby Page was a lovely book that feature a rare appearance from a main character who was actually older than sixty! I loved the relationship between the characters and seeing how the community all came together was lovely. It also made me want to take up swimming again!

However, there was one other book that really stood out for me this year that I’m officially naming as my favourite…

Drum roll…

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It was Skyward by Brandon Sanderson!

I loved everything about this amazing novel, from the female representation to the complex characters, the world building and the TOTAL LACK OF TEENAGE SNOGGING! Amazing!

I hope you all had a great 2018 too! What were your favourite reads? Let me know in the comments!

New Year’s Resolutions

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hello Bookworms!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic time last night drinking, dancing… going to bed early with a good book. However you celebrated, it’s time to push those hangovers/novels aside and think about priorities for the New Year.

Last year, I was incredibly laissez-faire about setting out plans for my blog and yet it grew far more than expected, so this year I’m going to be a bit more targeted in my approach to see if I can keep that momentum going. I’ve outlined ten (!) objectives that I’m hoping to achieve during 2019 which, as a thoroughly non-ambitious person is already making me feel queasy but I’m feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Well, for January anyway…

  1. Make my peace with Goodreads and use it properly. I dislike everything about the site but it’s a fantastic resource that I only semi-engage in. I want to at least log and give a star rating to every book that I read. I’m even going to set a reading target of 100 books – wish me luck!
  2. Smash my NetGalley backlog out of the park. Oh, book that I requested three years ago and still haven’t even started, I will get to you this year, I promise.
  3. Consistency is key, Lucinda. Basically, stop f#*king about with your “unintentional hiatuses” and post according to a proper schedule. Have the blogging equivalent of an emergency frozen pizza in your drafts so that you don’t get caught out.
  4. Keep going with the varied content. I published far more discussion style posts in the last half of 2018 and really enjoyed writing them, so…yeah. Keep it up.
  5. Branch out into other forms of social media. I’m now on Twitter but I also have a fun idea for Pinterest that I want to try out.
  6.  Get more involved in other people’s stuff. I’ve tailed off with the blog hopping recently so I need to get back on it.
  7. Complete Read Harder 2019. I’ve done the last three so this shouldn’t be a problem – it equates to reading two books per month so it should be easy.
  8. Complete the Chapter-a-day Read-along. This is hosted by Nick at nicksenger.com and as I had so much fun reading Les Miserables last year I’m taking part in the new FOUR BOOK challenge!
  9. Just…try to make a dent in your physical TBR. Now that I’ve got all of my unread books together I can see how many I have to get through. Oops. I’m determined to get the pile down. It’s currently 26 so should be achievable (this is just my physical TBR, I’m not even going to attempt to get my digital one down).
  10. Mumbles *something about getting 500 followers*. I’ve always been very much against the idea of counting followers but it is more fun when lots of people respond to what you’ve written. So, 500 is the nominal target. Wish me luck.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous New Year to you all!

What are your plans for 2019? How did you do with your 2018 resolutions? Let me know in the comments!

Confession Time…



Books I haven’t read…yet.

As we all know, there’s too many books out there to be read in a lifetime (sob!) so you have to pick your reading material wisely. This inevitably leads to gaps in all of our reading histories, which got me thinking…which books do people expect me to have read that I haven’t? 

1. About 97% of the Classics



I just don’t get on with classic books by people like Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. I find them so hard to get into, they usually fail to hold my attention and I generally get frustrated at the way that the characters are so bound by societal norms that they can’t just say what they want and get on with it. Also, representation of any minority group is pretty much zero so I kind of get bored reading about very similar types of characters over and over. Am I being unfair? Probably, and perhaps there is more diversity out there than I realise but overall – not for me.

2. The vast majority of YA literature



I’m too bloody old to be interested in all that teenage angst! Again, there are some brilliant examples of YA books that I’ve really enjoyed (most recently, Illuminae) but books by the likes of John Green don’t really do it for me. I have a bit of a personal rule that if the main character carries a backpack, I’m out (she says whilst reading Wild, where the narrator’s backpack features so heavily it almost becomes it’s own character). What can I say, I’m a conundrum 😜.

3. Core texts for most schools


For some unknown reason, my school chose a) not to stream English lessons by ability, b) to devote as little time to English as possible and c) to make us read the most random books ever. This resulted in a woeful teaching standard and one very bored Lucinda. So whilst everyone I’ve ever met that’s roughly my age read books like Of Mice and Men, we got stuck doing Hobson’s Choice which is literally the most boring novel ever. We also had to watch the immensely dull film which was made in 1954, in black and white, which did nothing to improve my feelings for the story. In fact, the only interesting work that we did study was the poetry of Maya Angelou, which has stayed with me to this day. I recently read Of Mice and Men and it was great – no idea why we didn’t study it. 

4. Shakespeare


Again, we’re back to my “how is this relevant?” feelings about classic literature and also the emotional scarring caused by my senior school. I have memories of teachers who would rather make us watch the RSC televised “play” of Macbeth  – a group of hammy actors sitting in a circle reading their lines (no set, no costumes, just big shiny faces) than read the actual book. Possibly something I should revisit as an adult but as soon as I start reading all those doths and tis trues every fibre of my being shouts “NOPE!”

5. Any Harry Potter stuff that isn’t books 1 – 7



 The term “flogging a dead horse” comes to mind when I see all these HP spin off books, play scripts and tenuously linked additions to the Wizarding World. Either write something else entirely (I quite enjoyed The Casual Vacancy) or make up a new fantastical world and start a new series of books there. It seems such a shame that someone as talented as JK Rowling keeps getting dragged into all these watered down versions of her original (brilliant) series. 

So that’s mine – what are your bookish confessions? What famous books haven’t you read? Let me know in the comments!

Weird and Wonderful: Books I Wouldn’t Have Read Without #ReadHarder

*Featuring links to some of my early blog posts *cringe*

I’m sure that by now you know I loves me a reading challenge! I’ve been doing Book Riot’s #ReadHarder for a few years now and it really has helped me to broaden my literary horizons. As I’ve just found yet another brilliant book that I’d never have expected to enjoy, I thought I’d share with you some of the great discoveries that I’ve made over the years…

1.The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Category: Read a book of true crime.

Who would have thought that a book about Victorian salmon fishing flies could be interesting? I certainly didn’t but right from the first page I was captivated by the bizzare world of modern day salmon fly tiers and the unbelievable story of the theft of hundred of thousands of pounds worth of incredibly rare birds from the Museum of Natural History in Tring purely so their feathers could be used in this arcane hobby. I loved everything about the book – the eccentric characters, the mystery and the sheer weirdness of the whole situation led to a brilliant story that had me hooked (see what I did there?😉)

2. Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster Burton

Category: Read a food memoir.

“What the hell is a food memoir?” was my initial reaction to this category but since discovering the slightly odd genre I’ve found some real gems (shout out to Nigel Slater’s Toast which is also brilliant). There’s something about learning about a culture through their food that’s utterly compelling and it’s surprising what you can learn. I loved the way this book was written, how adventurous the family were in trying even the weirdest Japanese food (frozen octopus cubes anyone?) and the sheer level of excitement and enthusiasm that Matthew Amster Burton had for the topic.

Side note: apologies for this review – it’s very old!

3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Category: Read a book about books.

I would never, ever have picked this book up (despite it being in pretty much every Top 100 Books chart) because the title made it sound like something I might have appreciated if I was nine but not if I was in my thirties. I’m not a fan of Disney or princess stories and I really thought this would be some schmaltzy crap about a princess getting married and living happily ever after. Ha! How wrong I was! This book is just brilliant and one of my absolute favourites. If you haven’t read it, think Neil Gaiman’s Stardust but with an incredibly original self deprecating twist. An absolute classic.

4. Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

Category: Read a book about sports



This book made me take up running – a minor miracle in itself – and whilst that hobby was short lived (almost killed me) it did inspire me to do more exercise; two years on and I’m still going strong (even though I deviated to yoga – it still counts!) I loved Hemmo’s humour, her attitude and her honesty and how she talked as much about the emotional side of exercise as much as the physical impact. Instead of being some preachy novel written by a super fit twenty year old this was an honest reflection of what it’s like to try a new sport when you’re a bit older, a bit heavier and a bit more worried about getting mugged/laughed at/embarrassingly injured. A great read, even if you’re exercise-phobic.

5. Women by Chloe Caldwell

Category: Read a one-sitting book

I loved everything about this tiny little novel, even though it felt like the kind of niche read that only a handful of people would ever enjoy. It was written with such honesty and emotion that it felt like I was illicitly reading someone else’s diary and, being incredibly nosy, I guilty consumed it all in one go. A really brave book that felt totally authentic, I loved every second.

Have you ever completed a reading challenge? What books have you discovered as a result? Have you read any of my top picks? Let me know in the comments!


Discussion: Is It OK To DNF an ARC?

Odd little fact about me- I very very rarely DNF books. There’s something that feels so wrong about doing it that I just…can’t. I’ve spent hours slogging through some thoroughly unenjoyable texts: Titus GroanThe Devil’s PrayerThe Foxhole Court, The Book of Mirrors…the list is huge. Yet I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time reading any of those books. I think I’ve just proven to myself that I definitely didn’t like them (and said so in my fun little negative reviews). Usually, if I’m reading a boring book I’ll put it on the backburner and read something else for a bit, then return to it half an hour at a time for the next few days/weeks/months. However, even I have my limits and unfortunately I think I’ve reached them with Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott.

You see, Swan Song isn’t an objectively bad book. It’s coherent, the plot moves along nicely, there grammar and spelling is fine, there’s no major storyline inconsistencies or majorly annoying characters. It has some good points; it’s glamorous, it features a number of well written characters, it feels authentic. The problem is…I simply don’t care what happens.

Honestly, I’ve never felt so emotionally distanced from a book. I have absolutely no idea why – it’s not like the characters aren’t multi-faceted or deserving of pity or the writing is terrible. It’s just that…I don’t care. You see, Swan Song is the story of Truman Capote (yes, that one) and the publication of excerpts from his unfinished novel”Answered Prayers”. Capote’s writing features all of his glamorous Hollywood/High Society friends and his bitchy stories about them and Swan Song is the imagined reaction to the release of such scandalous gossip. My problem is this: I don’t care about (fairly tame) gossip about 1950’s starlets. I don’t care about whose husband had an affair with whom. I don’t care who felt betrayed and who spat out their dry martini all over their Chanel evening gown. It just wasn’t for me.

But can I DNF it?

The problem is, I got a copy of Swan Song as an ARC and I feel weirdly obliged to give an honest review of the title – something I can’t objectively do if I’ve only read half of it. Yes, I know there’s a box on NetGalley where you can say that you’re not going to provide a review but there’s still part of me that feels that’s it’s wrong to give up. But then I look at the progress bar on my Kindle and it says something like 3 hours 15 minutes left to read and my heart just sinks (also, I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate – I can usually read an entire book in that time – perhaps it’s because I keep drifting off and having to re-read bits). 

There’s a part of me that’s worried that the book might suddenly get better and I’m missing out. There’s also a tiny little nagging voice that tells me that DNFing a book makes me a loser. Then there’s another part of me that thinks life’s too short to read something in not enjoying.

Things my brain is saying right now:

But what if I go to a dinner party and everyone is raving about the book and I have to admit that I gave up on it? (I can’t even begin to tell you how wildly improbable that scenario is).

What off my brain never lets me forget that I stopped reading it and it annoys me for the rest of my life? (More likely)

What if the book becomes a forgotten classic, only to be re-discovered years later and I have to admit that I was there at the start but I couldn’t see how amazing it was? 

Aargh!

Can anyone please help me to feel better about my dilemma? Are you a regular DNFer? Is it wrong? Am I over-thinking it? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Discussion: Reading More Than One Book At A Time

A long time ago, when I was a little girl, I would traipse off to the library every week with my Mum or Dad to max out my library card. Going with Dad was better because he would check out a couple of books for me on his card, allowing me to get more than the measly six maximum that the library allowed (classic parenting skills – my Mum would just force me to put some of my choices back. I think my Dad couldn’t be bothered with the hassle). Anyway, when I got home I’d be so excited that I’d read a couple of chapters of one book, then be distracted by the shiny shiny Other New Books so I’d start a different one…then the same thing would happen…and before you knew it I’d have started them all (I had A LOT of bookmarks). Fast forward thirty years and…I still do exactly the same thing. No self control, me ☺

I had absolutely NO IDEA this was weird until I mentioned it on a tag and everyone was like “that’s crazy!” and I was like “is it? I thought it was normal!” 

Evidently not.

So, confession time: I’m currently reading nine different books at the same time. 

(I’ll leave a little gap here so you have time to digest that)

Do you get confused between the stories?

No, fictional questioner. I tend to read from different genres so I can keep all of the plots straight in my head. To me it’s like watching different tv shows – sometimes I binge read one book, sometimes I’ll read a few chapters then flip to something else. 

Do you ever accidentally leave a book that you’re not that into for months on end then forget what’s going on?

Occasionally this does happen but I have a reading planner to prevent such mishaps (get me!) It also stops me from maxing out library renewals because it can take me months to finish a book that I don’t really like.

What are the best things about reading lots of books at once?

I love the variety – you can swap between books and read whatever takes your fancy. It makes reading difficult/long/boring books easier as you can dip in and out of them when you’re in the right frame of mind. It staves off reading slumps by allowing me to start reading that new book that I’m excited about and it gives me more flexibility to fit in ARC’s that have tight deadlines. It also means that if I’m reading a big heavy paperback I don’t have to lug it round with me everywhere!

Do you have any tips for budding multi book readers?

I find it easier to read books that are wildly different from each other so if you’re going to start mixing it up I’d try to make sure I was reading a maximum of one book per genre. Also, make sure you’re prioritising books with deadlines (library books, ARC’s, borrowed books etc.) because it might take you a lot longer to get through them. And finally – enjoy the freedom!

Do you read more than one book at a time, or do you think the whole idea is batshit crazy? Are you tempted to join the dark side? Let me know in the comments!

Discussion: Re-reading Books

Like most of us, I have a huge mental TBR. I have lists of books I want to read, lists of suggestions, piles of physical books, loads of downloaded e-books, books on my wishlist, books I’ve got my eye on in the library, NetGalley ARC’s, reading challenges that need books allocating to them, stuff on Goodreads that I added so long ago I can’t remember what’s on there, forthcoming books I’m considering pre-ordering…the list quite literally goes on. And honestly, when I see it all written down like that, I feel a bit sick. 

HOW WILL I EVER FIND THE TIME?

So, with all this self-imposed pressure, why – for the love of God why – would I want to re-read something I’d already read? I mean, I’ve ticked it off. It’s disappeared from my basket. It’s in the archives. It’s done.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I am what I would call a “gratification reader” (yes I just made that up). I loooooove that feeling of reading the last page of a novel. I get excited when I realise that a book is a lot shorter than I first thought and I can make the progress bar jump up in chunks – although nothing beats the feeling of finishing a massive tome (one day, Les Miserables, one day). So to then have to go back – even years in the future – and do it all again…where’s the fun in that?

Well, there does seem to be some method to the madness. Lots of people feel that they get more out of a story the second time (or more! Seriously, who are these people). There might be details that you’d missed the first time around and some readers liken it to visiting an old friend (I would argue an old friend with nothing new to tell you, but hey ho). I can’t help but think that this all sound horribly repetitive. Am I meant to read the entire book, even the boring bits? Or the bits I have clear memories of? I never skip through books on principal, so the thought of just missing out chunks of text fills me with dread. 

There’s a more existential argument about self reflection when re-reading – if the text hasn’t changed but your reaction to it has, you can see how far you’ve come as an individual. Well, maybe – but won’t this also potentially ruin treasured bookish memories? Won’t my main reaction be boredom because I know what’s coming next? What if I spot something problematic that had previously passed me by because different times/patriarchy/being a special millennial snowflake?

I guess I could choose a book to re-read that I have no memory of, but isn’t the reason for my lack of memory that the novel simply didn’t resonate with me? I suppose that with the benefit of additional life experience my feelings might have changed and what I hated as a teenager I might now understand/enjoy more. Plus I’m very much a mood reader, so perhaps I didn’t enjoy a particular book because of external influences? 

This brings me on nearly to the subject of Harry Potter (actually it doesnt, but if I say it does I don’t think anyone will notice). When the final HP book came out I was at University (I know! So old) and I just kind of…devoured it. If I hadn’t seen the films so many times I probably wouldn’t even be able to remember it, I read it so fast. As such, I don’t really understand what happened. Yes, I’ve looked online and had it explained to me and yes, I didn’t like what I heard so I went lalala and made up my own ending but I can’t help but miss that feeling of getting it for myself. So I really think that despite my misgivings and the metaphorical TBR tower threatening to topple over and kill me, I probably should give that one another go.

As for becoming a regular re-reader though? 

What are your thoughts on re-reading? Is it something you do often? Are you one of the crazy people who has read the same book multiple times? Let me know in the comments!

I have an Amazon voucher – book recs please!

Hello Bookworms!

Just a quick request – I signed to some online pension management thing (my life is trés exciting) and I’ve apparently qualified for a £10 Amazon voucher! Yay!

This voucher is yet to materialise in my inbox but when if it does I’ll need something to spend it on…hmmm…

That’s where you lovely lot come in. Obviously I’ll be buying books with it…but which ones? There’s too many to choose from!!!

So, if you’ve read anything amazing recently that you really recommend, could you let me know in the comments? I don’t care what genre it is, if you think it’s good, let me know!

Thank you lovelies!

Lucinda xxx