Thursday, 10 January 2019

Book challenges for 2019

I love the idea of book challenges but I always seem to run out of puff and get side-tracked with books not related to any of my challenges.  But I continue to do them with great enthusiasm, and I love the whole process at the beginning of the year thinking about them, choosing books for them sorting through my bookshelves looking for elusive books that I know I have.  Its not easy keeping on track and this year I seem to have gone overboard with the amount of challenges I have signed up to... you cant fault me for my ambition in this regards at least.

I try to do challenges that will challenge but that also the books I read might fall into multiple challenges.... doesnt always work... but when it does its great.

This year I have signed up to:

The Historical Fiction Challenge: which I have done for a number of years now and always really enjoy it... I always read historical fiction so its a no-brainer for me but I do try and increase the number of books in the genre that I read each year.

I've committed to the Medieval level, which is 15 books....

World at War Reading Challenge: this is a new challenge for me. My reason for joining is that I want to read WW1 fiction and non-fiction this year as I have alot on my bookshelves that I need to read.

It is set out as a 'bingo' challenge and I hope I can get at least one bingo, if not two.  The categories are:

Any book published 1914-1918
_ Any book published 1918-1924
_ Any book published 1925-1930
_ Any book published 1931-1938
_ Any book published 1939-1945
_ A nonfiction book about World War I
_ A nonfiction book about 1910s and 20s
_ A nonfiction book about 1920s and 30s
_ A nonfiction book about 1930s
_ A nonfiction book about World War II
_ A fiction book set during World War I
_ A fiction book set 1918-1924
_ A fiction book set in the 1920s
_ A fiction book set in the 1930s
_ A fiction book set during World War II
_ A book set in the United States or Canada
_ A book set in England, Ireland, or Scotland
_ A book set in Europe
_ A book set in Asia or Middle East
_ A book set elsewhere (a country/continent not already read for the challenge)
_ A book focused on "the war"
_ A book focused on "the homefront"
_ Watch any movie released in 1940s
_ Watch any movie released in the 1930s
_ Watch any movie about either war 

 Reading Women Challenge:  I posted about this in December. I have not set my list as yet and may not do so and just go along and see what I fancy throughout the year.

Read Scotland:  this will be the 6th or 7th year I have participated in this challenge and I have never quite reached my goal... this will be the year that I do..  The idea is that you read books by Scottish authors, set in Scotland or about Scotland.  I have signed up to the 'Robert Burns' level which is 6-10 books. Last year I read 5 so I am not far off. I love to read about Scotland, we lived there for 4 years and my husband is Scottish so there are lots of connections that I have.  I first fell in love with it by reading Lillian Beckwith books in my late teens and early 20's I hope to revisit some of her earlier books this year.

European Reading Challenge: I am doing this one again this year.. signed up for the Honeymooner level - 5 books from 5 different countries - can be fiction, non-fiction, travel etc. I'm already on country number 2 now, so I should be able to complete this challenge.

Victorian Reading Challenge:  Again I am signed up to this one as I failed miserably last year.... again I am going to do the bingo challenge option.  I need to read 5 Victorian books this year... its an area of literature that I am lacking in so hopefully I can read some.

Australian Women Writers Challenge:  again I am joining in the fun of this and trying to read more books by Australian women writers... last year I managed 10 books in this category so here's hoping I can trump that number this year.

Back to the Classics:   I've done this for a couple of years now. This year I have chosen just 4 categories to read from so as to not overwhelm myself...
Classic by a Women Author -Miles Franklin - My Brilliant Career
Classic from Americas - Willa Cather novel
20th Century classic - Virginia Woolf novel
Place you have Lived Classic - Scotland - not sure what book yet

The Backlist Reader Challenge:  This is a new one for me as well and I hope alot of my other reading will also fall into this category...

Art in Paris

We went to alot of the usual art gallery's whilst in Paris.. there are still plenty more to see next time.  Below are a few pictures of my most favourtie of art/sculpture etc we saw on our travels around Paris.

Sculpture of a head and hand

Detail of lace on a dress - not sure who the painting is by but the detail was astounding

One of my all time favourite images and I got to see it in the flesh
Women on a Sofa by Matisse - I really loved this one. The kind of Parisian room I can imagine myself in
Van Gogh - Women in a Garden (Provence) painting. I love this - evokes so many lovely memories of gardens and Provence
Van Gogh - another of his Provence paintings. I love paintings of gardens, especially vegetable gardens - see photo below which I took on our travels - similar subject - lots of lovely neat rows of vegetables.
Taken at Chatillon-sur-Loire - a gorgeous town in Burgandy at the end of our week on a canal boat.
The Lace Maker by Vermeer... one of my favourite paintings as it depicts women and textiles making as its subject

One section of the Waterlilies painting by Monet - I didnt realise how large it is

Friday, 4 January 2019

2019 - the year ahead

Happy New Year to everyone...

I am now back at work after a restful 10 days off but my goodness it rained here in the tropics, which kind of put a damper on things... that tropical downpour scenario where you just cant go outside without getting thoroughly drenched. I have to admit that cabin fever did set in despite my pile of DVD's to watch.

Looks like we might be headed for some more rain soon and possibly another cyclone - early for the season (having already had one skirt on by us in December).

I had a fantastic year.  We did our big trip to France and the UK for our 25th wedding anniversary in July and we had a ball. France was everything I had imagined (and read about for the past 20 odd years) and more... we are already planning another trip.  I really cant describe it. Paris was busy and bustling and frustrating but so beautiful in so many ways. I loved just about everything we did, despite the heat and the endless lines of tourists everywhere.. a few pics below from out and about... I'll put some more up next week about some of the wonderful artwork we saw in Paris.

Art Nouveu at the Metro station
The Seine

The Black Cat shop - we saw lots of cats in Paris

View from the Eiffel Tower

Sacre Cour
Eiffel Tower from below

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Reading Women Challenge - 2019

I am joining the 2019 Reading Women Challenge.. I do read alot of women writers but want to expand my reading horizon and challenge myself to read different types of books from writers I may not have read before.
Below are the categories you can choose from.. the challenge is not to necessarily read all of them but to choose books from different categories. 

  1. A mystery or thriller written by a woman of color
    • Check out our episode about mysteries and thrillers for some great options.
  2. A book about a woman with a mental illness
  3. A book by an author from Nigeria or New Zealand
  4. A book about or set in Appalachia
  5. A children's book
  6. A multigenerational family saga
  7. A book featuring a woman in science
  8. A play
  9. A novella
    • A novella is a text of written, fictional, narrative prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel, somewhere between 17,500 and 40,000 words.
  10. A book about a woman athlete
  11. A book featuring a religion other than your own
    • If you have no religion, then choose to read about whatever religion you like!
  12. A Lambda Literary Award winner
  13. A myth retelling
  14. A translated book published before 1945
  15. A book written by a South Asian author
  16. A book by an Indigenous woman
    • This includes Native, First Nations, and Indigenous women from anywhere in the world.
  17. A book from the 2018 Reading Women Award shortlist
    • 2018 RWA Fiction Shortlist
    • 2018 RWA Nonfiction Shortlist
  18. A romance or love story
  19. A book about nature
  20. A historical fiction book
  21. A book you bought or borrowed in 2019
  22. A book you picked up because of the cover
  23. Any book from a series
  24. A young adult book by a woman of color
  • A book by Jesmyn Ward
  • A book by Jhumpa Lahiri

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Playing catch up - Historical fiction challenge

I have once again neglected my blog this year... my reading has continued and I will now do my update on my historical fiction reads (challenge) for the year on this one blog post...

Last Christmas in Paris by
As we were Paris bound in July my reading in early 2018 was anything French/Parisian... this is a nice little story set in WW1 about Evie and Thomas who carry on a romance by letter while Thomas is fighting in France...its is done using the epistolary style and I must say it is done really well... abit like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  An fairly easy book and worth reading if you like a light and romantic read.

My Name is Mary Sutter by
Set in the Americal Civil War, this story is about a young lady who wants to become a doctor. Trained as a mid-wife by her mother she wants to take it one step forward and become a surgeon. In order to follow her dream and leave behind some romantic heartbreak, Mary travels to Washington DC to help tend the thousands of wounded soldiers.  Under the guidance of two progressive surgeons Mary starts to undertake more hazardous and difficult medical work and her dream to be a surgeon looks like it might be fulfilled. However, she is called home to  help with the difficult birth of her twin sisters baby.  Mary Sutter is a strong heroine, who is to be admired and pitied. She wants a life she can not have because she is a women and faces continued sexism and disappointment. Despite this she rallies forward and her determination is eventually rewarded and she finds happiness in life and love.  I have not read a huge amount of historical fiction set in the Civil War but this has wetted my appetite for more.

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
I listened to this on audio.  I was not sure what to expect having not read much of pre-revolutionary America, espeically old New York.  It was an intriguing read. One minute is was a mystery, the next a love/hate story, a horror, it was often farsical but rarely boring! A story of fortunes won and fortunes lost, men beaten down to only rise again, treachery and deceit all this woven into seamless and vivid descriptions of the beginnings of New York.  I really enjoyed this and its was a pleasant surprise...

Mrs M by Luke Slattery
Story set both in Mull and Ulva as well as the colony of New South Wales. A historical fiction book about Governor Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth who spent 11 years in the colony. Governor Macquarie often made bold and radical decisions. He wanted the colony to be more than just a prison, he believed that pardoned convicts could make worthwhile contributions to the development of the society, once gaining their 'freedom' they would help to build a new world. Macquarie was much maligned during his last 2 years of life as a report on the colony ridiculed his endeavours. A sad story in the end for Macquarie who was progressive in his vision.
A very good rendering of the historical fact, swathed in a fictional story of their lives together and a romantic liaison for Elizabeth with a convict architect.
I really enjoyed this one but I think it helped that I had studied convict history at University.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Starting again... for 2018

I seem to be a particulary bad blogger as I only did one post in 2017!  However, we will begin again for 2018 in the hope that I can get it together to post on a more regular basis.  This year is going to be busy as we have a lovely overseas trip planned for June/July of which the planning is keeping me well and truly occupied at the moment.  We are off to France and Scotland for our 25th wedding anniversary celebrations.  It will be my first time in France (3 weeks planned) and a week in Scotland (Edinburgh) to visit family and friends.  It will have been 12 years since I was last in Scotland.

I have once again joined some reading challenges to try and keep me on track - the ongoing five year Classics challenge of which I have only read 1 book out of 50 in 2 years... oh dear.... I am also joining the Historical Fiction challenge, the Victorian Reading challenge (cross over with the Classics challenge); Read Scotland 2018 for the third year running and also joined the European reading challenge to get me into the spirit for our trip mid-year.

See the above tabs for the Classics and Victorian Reading challenge lists.

I will list my other challenges and books read as I go.

2017 was a busy year work wise but also for my little business - Miss Lily's Vintage Wares.  I did a number of 'extra' new markets this year which added quite abit to my schedule.  As we will be away this year, I will miss a number of markets, but it will enable me to have a bit of a breather and re-group towards the end of the year for my major markets then.  Some photos below from my last market of the year - the Leukemia Christmas Craft Fair.



Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Year, new challenges

I cant believe it has been nearly 12 months since I wrote anything on this blog.... anyhow, I shall begin again, a new year and new dedication to at least writing now and again....

So much has happened - we brought  another house at the end of 2015 and moved in over Christmas 2015/2016, I then took on a new role at work from May which has basically kept me flat tack for the rest of 2016.  

Sewing madly for my markets has also kept me on my toes, but its been a good but hectic year.

My reading has gone downhill in 2016 but I do now have a garden, which is lovely but daunting - 2 acres of it actually - well 1 acre is reclaimned rainforest and the rest tropical gardens and lawn.  We now live in the hills around Cairns (Kuranda) and commute down the range each day to work.

Work has meant there has not been enough time in the day for too much gardening and planning but now we are settled in and generally the house sorted, 2017 is the year to really start planning our edible garden and get stuck into it.  I had some success in the dry season with beans and tomatoes but much else got eaten by birds or just failed to thrive.  I am not sure what I am doing wrong - this tropical gardening lark is testing my patience.  So need to source some good advice from locals about how I can tackle my gardening problems.

Here are some photos of the house and garden.  This is the vegetable garden once I had cleared it of weeds and planted out in pots - the soil is clay so I am trying to break it down before planting in it as things are just dying if I plant direct at the moment.  This patch is now overgrown again and needs clearing out and compost and mulch laid again.

 Enclosed vegetable garden with lemon tree (about March 2016). Unfortunately bandicoots still get in and dig things up - constant battle with wildlife here.
 Pineapple corner - I have a few more planted in this area now.

Luscious tomatoes until the sunbirds realised they could get tasty treats from the bushes.

I'll write more soon about my bookish aims for 2017 and more garden and creature encounters.