Tag Archives: hobby

Book Challenge by Erin 10.0 – Bonus Round

9 Mar

To coincide with World Book Day this week, I completed the bonus round of my online reading challenge. If you have been following my blog, you will know that I finished the first round and ten books in an extraordinarily fast time. If you want to remind yourself you can check it out here.

Once the first round is completed, you can go on to take part in a bonus round, which is reading books based on the same categories but trying to read books that have been chosen by other people who are taking part in the challenge. When you finish reading a book, you make a comment about it so that people can see if the books is worth reading or not.

Here are the books that I read for the bonus round:

Freebie (any book that is more than 200 pages long) – Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I have heard a lot about Jojo Moyes but I have avoided reading any of her books so far because I thought that they were going to be too girly and sentimental. If I hadn’t taken part in this challenge I would never have taken read this book. I am glad that I did though. It wasn’t a classic boy-meet-girl story. It dealt with a some very gritty subjects and taboos.

Book that was turned into a Movie – Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

This was a great read about the story of the vet from a travelling circus. He ends up joining the circus after failing to take his final veterinary exams after his parents suddenly die. The different characters make the story and the descriptions of the animals, performances and the events are excellent. The story is told from different points in time so you learn about what happens long after the circus stops travelling. A highly recommended read.

Set in Europe – Dracula by Bram Stoker

This is another classic that up until now I haven’t got round to read. There was an ominous feeling to the book from the very start. Because the book is written from different points of view in the form of letters and diaries, the reader gets a holistic view of everything that is happening. Even though I knew that Count Dracula was the source of strange happenings, I still found it shocking when it was revealed that there were “two small puncture wounds on the neck”. I can imagine that reading this when it was first published without knowing the real identity of Dracula would be truly horrifying.

A Newberry Award Winner – The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth

This was an interesting and very quick read but I can’t say that I absolutely fell in love with it. The story is set in Japan and centres around a painter who has been commissioned to make a painting for the local temple. He wins the commission after his housekeeper brings home a cat. The painter believes that the cat is lucky and calls it “Good Fortune”.

A Friend’s Favourite – Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger 

The only thing that I didn’t like about this book was that there wasn’t more of it. The narrator is a boy who has been expelled from boarding school because of his constant poor grades. I felt the sense that he is completely lost and angst-ridden and unsure about what he wants to do with his life but doesn’t know where to turn to. I particularly enjoyed the interesting take he has on events that happened around him and some of the expressions that he uses.

Written over 100 years ago – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

It took me a while to get into this book. I’m not sure if that’s because I haven’t read anything else from Mark Twain and the only thing I knew about the Tow Sawyer books that he is famous for is because they are set in the southern states in America. Huckleberry Finn fakes his own murder/disappearance and the book is about what he does while he is “on the run”. I’m not sure that this book made me desperately pick up any more of Mark Twain’s books and read them. I also thought that the ending was a little bit rushed.

Title with 6 Words – The Way Things Look to Me by Roopa Farooki

I found this book in a second hand bookshop and bought it especially for this challenge because I was having problems finding another book with a six word title. The story is about a girl with Asperger’s syndrome and what affect that has on her relationship with her brother and sister after their mother dies. I thought the book was inspiring and explored the complexity of sibling relationships.

Cardinal direction in the title – East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I had high hopes for this book; people who had read it before me had commented that it was an epic masterpiece. I liked it but it’s definitely not one of my favourite books of all time. It charts the story of two brothers, who are complete opposites, and how their lives unfold. There are numerous complications for them – from their relationship with their father to the women who enter their lives. I didn’t really feel very invested into the story until about a third of the way through. Having said that, I was disappointed when it ended because I wanted to know what happened to the characters in the end

Originally in another language – Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

This is a bizarre concept for a story but is beautifully told. A travelling salesman wakes up one morning to discover that he has turned into an insect overnight. He struggles to adjust and understand his new condition and his family are also shocked by his transformation. I felt sorry for both him as he tries to communicate with people but can’t and his mother who is convinced that his condition is only temporary. The ending was tragic as he is shunned by this family.

Begins with the letter N – The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

This is another very popular book that I have avoided to read until now. However it is beautifully and sensitively written. It tells the story of a couple who, despite her moving away and becoming engaged to someone else, fall in love. The story switches from present day when the couple are old and living in residential care and the past when they fall in love.

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Book Challenge By Erin – completed!

15 Aug

Recently I stumbled upon a reading challenge which is run via a Facebook group. The challenge is relatively easy. There are ten categories and you have to read one book from each category. The books have to be at least 200 pages long. You then have four months to read the books that you have chosen.

The challenge started on 1st July and I am pleased (and a little bit surprised) to say that on Monday I finished the challenge! I found the challenge a lot of fun and it also meant that I was able to read some books that have been on my to-read list for an extraordinary length of time and also to read some books that I would never normally even think about reading.

Here is a quick review of the books that I have been busy reading:

Freebie (any book of your choice that is at least 200 pages long)

I chose Murder Games by James Patterson. This is the easiest read on my list by a long way. I have read a lot of James Patterson books and they are an easy read. As this is my first challenge I thought that having an easier read to begin with would be a good idea. This story was about the race to stop a serial killer. A university professor and detective team up to find the killer before he strikes again. There are quite a lot of plot twists that keep you guessing right until the end!

Read a book that starts with the letter “N

I chose Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro. I really enjoyed this book. A lot of Ishiguro’s books are long and not very accessible but these short stories were easier to read. I liked that each of the stories was about music and that the first and the last stories were connected. It felt like I was reading a novel rather than several stories that had no connection with one another. I especially liked the description of the Swiss couple who are holidaying in England in the third story because I thought the mannerisms and attitude of the pair were very accurate.

Read a book that has a (mostly) orange cover

I chose Appointment with Death by Agatha Christie. I have never read any Agatha Christie novels so I thought this might be a good place to start. It was clear right from the start the a murder had been committed and it made a nice change to start in the middle of the action rather than waiting for a long build up before you knew who the victim was. The case was all solved within a matter of hours and I wasn’t expecting the twist at the end of the novel (because it never is the butler who’s done it).

Read a book that has an unlikeable character

I chose The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I think just about everyone read this during my teenage years at school – apart from me. Knowing Plath’s personal demons, I have been avoiding reading it. Although mental health is a main theme of the book, I was pleasantly surprised how well-written and engaging it was. The analogy with the fig tree would have perhaps had a greater impact on me had I have read it in my teenage years but being older I can appreciate the cleverness of the imagery.

Read a book from the list of 100 books that PBS calls “The Great American Read” 

I chose The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I have been meaning to read this for a while. There were a lot of books on the list that I thought would be interesting to read but I decided on this one. There are a lot of difficult themes that are tackled in the book, namely racism and abuse, and, although they made me think about these themes in more detail, it was necessarily an enjoyable read.

Read a book with something related to water in the title

I chose The Falls by Ian Rankin. I have read quite a few Rankin novels and I had this book anyway. It seemed like a good opportunity to stop this book from gathering dust on the book shelf. The book is one of many in the Inspector Rebus series and Rebus and his colleagues have to find out who killed a student. When the case is then linked to unsolved murders dating back over the last 30 years, the investigation takes an unexpected turn. There is also an interesting subplot because the student was involved in an online role playing game. It also looks like Inspector Rebus may have fallen in love finally, after his marriage fell apart because of his commitment to his job.

Read a book you’ve owned the longest but haven’t read

I chose Porno by Irvine Welsh. I am not 100% sure that this is the book I have had the longest as there are a lot of contenders for that but I have been meaning to read this for a long while. This is actually the sequel to Welsh’s Trainspotting novel that was the basis of the film of the same name. I read Trainspotting and enjoyed it immensely. Both of these books (and quite a few of Welsh’s other books) are written, at least partly, in Scottish dialect so it is a bit of challenging read, which is why it has been on the “To read” list for so long.

The start of the book was quite predictable. The characters from the Trainspotting book are now (largely) clean and drug-free but in an attempt to make a quick buck they decide to get involved in the making of a pornography film. It took a while to get going because it was obvious what was going to happen. The book is told from all of the characters perspectives which I thought was interesting. There is a plot twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting. But beware if you decide to read this – there are some characters who curse with every other word that they use.

Read a book with an emotion word in the title 

I chose The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I recently bought this book and luckily it fits nicely into this category. Luckily (please excuse the pun), I really enjoyed this book. A interesting exploration about how much of our lives and personalities are influenced by our heritage and our family. The descriptions of the many, many Chinese superstitions and beliefs were also fascinating!

Read a book (must be at least 2 words in the title) where each word in the title of the book begins with the same letter 

I chose Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I have never read this, even though I can hear the theme tune of the TV series in my head the moment that I think of the title. I don’t know very much about the plot apart from there is a black horse in it. I was surprised that this book was written from the point of view of the horse. During the book, the horse experiences good and bad masters and how he sees other horses being treated.

Read a book featuring a character who shares your profession or a similar one

I chose Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. This is a bit of a tenuous link to my job. I work in Finance, most recently in a bank and the main character works in bonds and trades on Wall Street. This is another book that has been gathering dust and, without this challenge, I don’t think that I would be attempting to read it. This was a long book (720 pages). Although I had left this book to the end and it felt like I was never going to finish it, I think it might be one of my favourite books of all time. The plot is straight-forward but the political ramifications are quite complex. I liked the way that all the characters had strong mannerisms and how the action in the book was relentless.

There is now a bonus round to the challenge which I have decided to take part in. You have to choose another book from each of the categories but you get extra credit if you read something that someone has already selected. I am not sure if I will have time to complete another 10 books but I will let you know if I do!

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Anyone for Tennis?

20 Nov

For the fourth year in a row, I was at the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday. What started as a one-time thing now definitely signals the start of the run up to Christmas. Basically, the top 8 seeded men in the world compete in the last tournament of the year.

In the first year, I was so excited because Roger Federer had made it to the final. Federer versus Djokovik – it was like a dream come true until it turned into a nightmare. Roger had injured his back in the semi-final and wasn’t able to compete in the final. I would have been annoyed but he did come out personally to apologise. Then the tournament directors managed to organised an exhibition match with Djokovik and Murray which actually wasn’t that great. Then Murray played doubles with Henman, Cash and McEnroe. We ended up getting 60% of our ticket refunded but I still hadn’t seen Federer play live and that was my dream.

The next year was a repeat of the final of the previous year but this time Federer played but got trashed by Djokovik. Last year Murray and Djokovik were battling it our for the world number one position. Murray won and, for the first time in ages, Britain had the number one ranked player in the world.

This year I was hoping for a Federer-Nadal final. That went straight out of the window, when Nadal pulled out of the tournament on Monday night because of his knee.

Since then I had been watching the games with baited breath, willing Federer to get to the Final at least. Part of the excitement of having tickets to the Final is that you aren’t quite sure of who is going to be taking part in it. As it is the Top 8 in the world who qualify, you can be sure of seeing some talent. The questions really is if your favourite is going to make it there?

So, we found a pub and watched the semi-final there. All was going great – first set was won by Federer who looked like he hadn’t even broken into a sweat. Then Goffin won the second. Hang on this wasn’t in the script…

Then Goffin broke Roger in the third set and someone in the pub decided it was time to put the rugby on. Seriously??

As we had a dinner reservation, we had to leave anyway. By the time we had WiFi again, it was all over and our favourite wouldn’t be playing for us the next day.

It was disappointing but we still had the doubles and singles final to look forward to. The seat were really fantastic. We had paid a lot but the view was great and it was worth every penny.

The doubles was a straight forward game won by Kontinen and Peers, who I had seen win at the same event last year.

I wasn’t sure who I wanted to win the final: Goffin or Dimitrov. From the beginning it was clear who the majority of the crowd wanted to win. I have never seen so many Bulgarian flags in all my life! However, I’m not sure how many of the supporters there were real tennis fans. Shouting out to put off you opponent when they are about to take a free kick is fine in football but shouting out when someone is about to serve is not fair at all. It had the potential to spoil the game.

The game itself was end to end, with beak points all over the place. For the neutral (as I live in Switzerland, this is definitely me now) it was thrilling stuff. The game went to three sets and Dimitrov was the eventual winner.