31 January 2014

Reading Challenge – January Update

First things first, Happy Birthday to this blog! I can't believe it's been up and running for a year already and that I have managed to post over 200 times in the last year! I hope this will continue for a long time to come.

And now, on to what you really want to hear about, reading:

I have set about my challenge with the gusto of the newly converted. I have never forgotten the pleasure I have always found in reading but I have rediscovered the thrill of making time for it.

This has been in part helped by the fact my phone is basically nothing more than a fancy bit of plastic and components at the moment and I have been unable to use it for anything even vaguely diverting for most of this month just gone.

I have had my evenings given back to me in a way. I have, of course, still been watching DVDs like they’re going out of fashion, but I have always sort of used them as background noise. I have also spent some time actually watching some of those DVDs and getting much more out of them than I do when I am also plugged in to Twitter at the same time!

But what about the books, I hear you say. There have been more than I really thought even I would get through. I’m not a slow reader but I am only really reading in the evenings and at weekends. I have also slotted some in on my commute to the course the jobcentre have insisted I complete.

The first book from the list I created was I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith (who also wrote 101 Dalmatians, did ya know?). I enjoyed the book and found it absorbing with plenty to think about to keep me interested in what is, after all, a fairly standard love story.

The book is written from the point of view of Cassandra Mortmain and takes place over six months in which many changes happen to her family. Cassandra and her bored older sister Rose, younger brother Thomas, stepmother Topaz and her father – a once famous author now gone to ruin through a crippling case of writers block.

Everything changes when the Cottons arrive to take over the running of Scoatney Hall. The Cottons bring with them all sorts of glamour and an injection of company the family is not used to.

Most importantly the new owner of Scoatney Hall and his brother are young and handsome (this is the bit that I said was standard).

But the book is more than just a love story. The rehabilitation of the family from abject poverty to a new beginning is beautifully told and I read it long into the small hours to find out what would happen next.

The book is written in journal style which lends it a pleasing conversational style, allowing you in to Cassandra’s innermost thoughts. She is a spirited and amusing storyteller.

My main disappointment was in the ending of the book. I had successfully paired everyone off previous to the last couple of chapters but was left with an unfinished feeling about Cassandra’s own story.

I quite wish there was a sequel.
I have managed to read my first full Georgette Heyer novel as well. And did enjoy it greatly, my mum knows me well enough to have suggested the perfect book to get me going.

The full list of books I read in January looks like this:

1.  I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – 31/12/13 ~ 4/1/14
2.  A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne-Jones – 4/1/14 ~ 5/1/14
3.  The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – 5/1/14 ~ 8/1/14
4.  The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer – 5/1/14 ~ 12/1/14
5.  Stardust by Neil Gaiman – 8/1/14 ~ 11/1/14
6.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – 11/1/14 ~ 27/1/14
7.  Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult – 13/1/14 ~ 16/1/14
8.  Is It Just Me? By Miranda Hart – 17/1/14 ~ 23/1/14
9.  Reckless by Cornelia Funke – 24/1/14 ~ 26/1/14
10.The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter – 27/1/14 ~ 31/1/14

(Just squeaked that last one in by finishing it off at lunchtime today!)

Pretty impressive, I thought. You know, for someone who probably read less than that many books in the whole of last year…

I have lined up my first book for next month and have to say thank you to my lovely friend L for posting me her copy. I have now also got hold of copies of two other books on my list and will have to decide which month I am going to assign them to.

I mentioned that in the last month I have been doing this course from the jobcentre, I have to say that it has proved much more helpful than I initially thought it was going to be and I have found that the days have passed incredibly quickly with something to occupy myself with.

I have also had mother in to help me get the house sorted out properly. We have junked so much stuff that I should be surprised there is anything left. But I am not as I knew I had an excess of everything, which was making staying on top of things just so hard.

But the house is properly tidy at the moment. And I am keeping on top of the cleaning. I have been making sure that madam has been eating breakfast and we have been slightly less rushed in the mornings. I feel a lot more in control than I have done for an incredibly long time.

The only down point is the enormous damp patch that has sprung up in madam’s room. The guttering has things growing in it and is leaking quite badly just by her window coupled with the fact the pointing around the same part of the window has crumbled. This is not good for her at all, the agency are now getting on top of it, but I really rather wish it was already done.

Oh, and I have got my new washing machine sorted! Things are really on the up around here… 

My reading challenge was inspired by essbeevee and her Books are Amazing posts (latest post on that link).

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