Photo Fridays: Hell froze over

It just goes to show in amongst all the hardship and trauma of the severe storms in England and the polar ice in America, there is some amusement to be found. I saw this headline in one of the papers a few days ago, and it made me laugh. Who on Earth (in hell?) would want to live in a town called Hell? Or, more pertinently, who would name their town Hell? Still, at least they are the only people who can say it was so cold hell froze over!

hellfrozeover

Reading Challenge 2013

940A year ago, I started the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge with the aim of reading fifty books in twelve months. I thought it was a realistic challenge to set myself. I knew I was a fast reader, but I didn’t quite realise just how many books I do actually read in a year. So, without further ado, I think it is time to reveal the true extent of my addiction.

  1. In January, I read 7 books. My favourites were the Ingo series and my least favourite was The Gift.
  2. In February, I read 5 books. My favourite was Troubadour and my least favourite was Falling Kingdoms.
  3. In March, I read 3 books. My favourite was I, Coriander and my least favourite was Cat Among the Pigeons.
  4. In April, I read 7 books. My favourite was The House of Riverton and my least favourite was The Black Heart of Jamaica.
  5. In May, I read 4 books. My favourites were Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and The Magicians’ Guild and my least favourite was The Star of Kazan.
  6. In June, I read 12 books. My favourites were The Black Magician trilogy and my least favourite was Stardust.
  7. In July, I read 18 books. My favourite was Five Get Into a Fix and my least favourite was Five Have a Mystery to Solve.
  8. In August, I read 10 books. My favourites were The Doomspell trilogy and Pirates! and my least favourite was The Seventeen Secrets of the Karma Club.
  9. In September, I read 3 books. My favourite was Being Elizabeth and my least favourite was The Ravenscar Dynasty.
  10. In October, I read 8 books. My favourites were Deeper than Blue and Paths of Glory and my least favourite was My Funny Valentine.
  11. In November, I read 10 books. My favourite was Rachel’s Holiday and my least favourite was The Prophecy of the Gems.
  12. In December, I read 11 books. My favourite was A Game of Thrones and my least favourite was Mockingjay.

Therefore, the total number of books I read during 2013 is… drumroll please… 98. Yes, you read that right. NINETY-EIGHT. 98 books. And what was my target again, the one I thought was only just achievable? Oh yes… 50. I beat my target by 48 books. I grossly underestimated my book-devouring skills. To break it down further, I read 22 new books and 76 old books last year. And of those new books, I only bought 13. So I am in no way as bad as my mum thinks. That is pretty much one book a month (see how good I am at maths!). It’s really not that many. I shall point this out to her immediately!

I’m proud of my achievements, especially considering I didn’t exactly hole myself away in my room to read all those books. Well done, me. Next time, I might go for 100 books! This reading challenge was more than a challenge for me. I managed to read some books from my childhood that brought back all kinds of memories. I also read some books I know I will have no problem saying goodbye to, as I have outgrown them at a rapid pace. I found some new books, not all bought by me, that now have a special place in my heart. As for my favourite book of the year, I am afraid I have not quite decided yet. All will be revealed soon!

Photo Fridays: Kitesurfer

The Saturday after Christmas, I went on a day trip to Wales. It seemed it was a perfect day for this kitesurfer. It was a beautiful winter’s day: cold, crisp but sunny, with the remnants of the hundred-and-twenty mile an hour gales we’ve been having recently. The kitesurfer was doing a few tricks, twists and turns, racing along with the wind. I expect he was a bit cold, though!

kitesurfer

Reading Challenge: December

940Here is my personal record of exactly how many books I have read each month. I am doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge and I aim to read 50 books this year. However, as I am also re-reading old books, I want to include these tried, tested and adored novels in my challenge. So… without further ado, enter December.

Total number of books read during December: 11

New books: 2

  • A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
  • The Traitor Queen by Trudi Canavan

Old books: 9

  • Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
  • Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
  • Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
  • The Christmas Pony by Sylvia Green
  • The Bailey Game by Celia Rees
  • Marshmallow Magic and the Wild Rose Rouge by Karen McCombie
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My favourite book this month was A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. I am evidently a bit late to the Game of Thrones craze, having only watched three episodes of the TV show that were shown on Freeview TV and not even looking at the books until last month. However, after reading this book, I can safely say I think I am hooked. It is one of those complex books where you think you have almost cracked the plot and you are convinced you know exactly what is going to happen, and then you turn the page and realise you are completely wrong. The writing in this book is excellent, the plot constantly twisting and turning, the characters well defined. It was easy to guess from the beginning which characters were the good guys and who were the baddies, though this may be because I essentially already knew what happened in the first book, because I am the last person in the world to read this book. The only thing I am not so sure of at the moment is the presence of the Others. I’m not totally convinced about zombies in a fantasy novel. Obviously, this is just my personal opinion, but I’m sure they have a part to play in the later books.

My least favourite book was Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I know, I know, it’s a crime to say I don’t like one of the Hunger Games books. I think the first two books are incredible, some of the best books I have read in a long while. The final book seemed to me to be an afterthought, created by the author to get more money. I didn’t realise that there was always going to be a third book, because that wasn’t conveyed in the plot. Mockingjay seems to be a constant cycle of Katniss is ill, Katniss goes mad, Katniss gets better, repeating for eternity. In the first two books, Katniss was amazing. She was a strong character, defying everyone and everything, a survivor. In the third book, she seems very weak, the complete opposite to her persona in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. The book seemed to be full of fillers, with very little actually happening aside from Katniss deciding who to love. I certainly don’t see how this book can be made into two separate films. We shall see.

Photo Fridays: Stained glass

On Christmas Day, I made these stained glass window biscuits as a present for all my family. I put in way too many boiled sweets, but forgot to warn my crumbly-toothed grandparents until my grandad was halfway through his biscuit. Luckily the rock-hard centre of the biscuit hadn’t broken all his teeth. They tasted delicious and they went down a storm. I love Christmas baking!

stainedglassbiscuits