Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Les Miserables Readalong, Narnia Project and a slight pre-emptive 2011 round - up...

I remember when I was six and the year that I was six seemed to drag out forever. So much of the stuff that happened in my childhood took place in that year. I have absolutely no idea how it is that we're almost at the end of another year - I've been living in Kent for an entire year now, and I've survived! We've just moved house for the second time, to a much bigger, nicer place, and we are (hopefully) finally starting to feel really settled! The weeks seem to fly by now, and sometimes it seems like the only way to measure a month is by how many posts I've managed to write! 

All in all, I'm really pleased with how 2011 has gone... At the beginning of the year I was still fairly relaxed about the wedding planning, only working a few hours a week and living in a one bedroom flat navigating my life around my books. Now I'm living in a two bedroom flat with a reading room, working full time, and most excitingly of all, I'm married! I'm starting to feel like a proper grown up, and while that is scary it's also necessary I think. Although it's not quite the beginning of December and there is still another month of 2011 to go, as I plan to spend most of it re-reading old favourites and finishing off the few Noel Streatfeild books I have on my shelf before the year is up (all of which will be re-reads), I thought now would be as good a time as any to talk about some of my favourite books of the year, and some of the books that I wouldn't have read or bought if it weren't for blogging!

From January 9th 2012 until 14th I'm going to be hosting an awesome giveaway for my first blogoversary! For this giveaway, there will be a question you will need to answer in order to win one of the books from my list of favourites from 2011, my first year of blogging! There are a fair amount to choose from, and I'm thinking that I will pick a couple of winners - probably one from the UK and one international, just so everybody can share the excitement! I cannot stress enough how glad I am that I started keeping this blog back in January. It has had such an effect on my reading life, and has got me through some really lonely, homesick times. It has really helped to know that whatever happens there are always blogs to read, and always awesome people I can talk books (and randomness) with, and I so appreciate that :-)

These are a few of my favourites from this year that I've not had time, internet connectivity, or words to talk about before and I thought if I did it here then there would be a point of reference for people entering the giveaway. These will just be very condensed reviews, and the first up is my favourite of all,

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - About a circus which mysteriously appears without warning, I was so blown away by this book that I still have no proper words to describe it. It's magical, awe-inspiringly written and much more complex and entangled than it appears. A tale of love, magic, adventure, brutality, and so, so much more. You must read this book.

Garden Spells & The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen - Apart from Morgenstern, Sarah Addison Allen is my favourite discovery of 2011. Her books are gorgeous - fairly lightweight, full of magic, food, and feisty women, they always have happy endings without every being completely predictable. Just beautiful.

Howards End is On the Landing by Susan Hill - A non - fiction book subtitled 'my year of reading from home', Susan Hill sets out to read only the books she already owns for a year, and it's basically my favourite kind of book. Full of literary discussion, exploration and lists upon lists, I came away from this book with a headful of questions and pages and pages of lists of books I now want to read. Very well written and enjoyable.

Going Out by Scarlett Thomas - As some of you may know, this lady is one of my all - time favourite authors. The author of eight novels, for some reason her first five are extremely difficult to get hold of, however my awesome husband managed to do just that for me this year, and I've now read all of them! Going Out is about Luke, a boy who is allergic to the sun, and his best friend Julie, and what happens to them when they decide to go out. Summed up like that, it seems kind of lame, but I promise it isn't. It's daring, funny, and as always with Scarlett Thomas, very human, intelligent, and candid.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson - I read this after I watched the BBC adaptation with Jason Isaacs (which I completely loved), and I liked the book a lot. Basically a story about Jackson Brodie, an ex - police officer turned private detective who mostly investigates missing cats, and his foray into the world of real cases, I liked it because Atkinson really humanises her characters, and because the plot was very well thought out. I've recently got my hands on the second in the series, and I'm looking forward to it!

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters- the latest in the Amelia Peabody series of historical crime fiction, based around Egyptology, this confused me intially because it is published out of sequence with the rest of the story. If you like this genre and want an easy read that is hilarious and engaging, Peters is your woman! Amelia Peabody is one of my favourite heroines, because she's such an unlikely one, and such an independent woman :-)

So, that's pretty much that. Now onto yet another thing I've signed up for in 2012....

Kate is hosting a year long readalong of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables in 2012. The idea is to read small chunks of the books to a schedule with the other participants and then talk about it. I've not had much luck with French literature this year - I've DNF'd both Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers, and Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame, but I'm hoping that my enduring love for Les Miserables the musical will help sustain me through this one, wish me luck!  

Rikki's Teleidoscope is hosting the Narnia Reading Project in 2012. I love this series and am way past due for a re-read so I'm going to join in! There is no schedule, so I will just post about the books as and when I read them! To sign up, use the link above :-)


  1. Argh, Blogger's just deleted my essay-length comment, what the hell did I put!?

    I can't believe you didn't get along with the Three Musketeers - it's one of my all-time favourite books. I'm 100% with on The Three Musketeers though! I think I'll join in with the read-a-long. I've read it before (and practically grew up with the musical) but not for a while.

    Congratulations on your first blogoversary! I'd be so excited.

    I can't wait to finally read The Night Circus - I've heard so many wonderful things about it. I think Howard's End is on the Landing is one of my favourite books about books.

  2. Thanks for joining my Narnia project. It's my first time and I am really looking forward to it.
    A Blogoversary is always fun. I need to start planning on what to do for mine nexy year.

  3. Happy blogoversary!! And yay for the wedding as well as joining the readalongs. :-)

    I really want to read Howards End is On the Landing. :-)

  4. Oooh, thanks for the heads-up about the Les Mis readalong. I downloaded it from Project Gutenberg months ago, and I really like the idea of reading it along with other people!