Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Deal Me In 2017: In which I will be reading 52 essays at the very least!

About two months ago I had got ready a list of short stories and poems I wanted to read for Jay's Deal Me In Challenge in 2017. However, since then I have been struggling with my final decision as I have been wanting to read a bunch of essays as well. After much internal debating I have decided to go with the essays instead, and to keep the first list in reserve for the following year (perhaps). 

So, for the upcoming Deal Me in Challenge, I have decided to read 52 essays. I have chosen lists for three suits from A Book of English Essays published by Penguin Classics. This book consists of pieces from well-known essayists of the 16th century up to the early 20th century.  The final thirteen I have chosen from The Literary Network

I am quite excited about this venture, and look forward to sharing my views on these essays too, should I feel up for it, that is. For the most part, I have decided to at least share my favourite quotations. 

And now for the list! 
Note 1:1 = Ace, 11 = Jack, 12 = Queen, 13 = King
Note 2: I have allowed myself two wild cards


  1. Of Travel by Francis Bacon
  2. On Death by Jeremy Taylor
  3. A Citizen's Diary by Joseph Addison
  4. Recollections of Childhood by Richard Steele
  5. The Man in Black by Oliver Goldsmith
  6. Old China by Charles Lamb
  7. On the Ignorance of the Learned by William Hazlitt
  8. On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth by Thomas de Quincey
  9. Getting up on Cold Mornings by Leigh Hunt
  10. Walking Tours by Robert Louis Stevenson
  11. A Defence of Nonsense by G. K. Chesterton
  12. The Crooked Streets by Hillaire Belloc
  13. The Maypole and the Column by Maurice Hewlett
  1. A Funeral by E. V. Lucas
  2. The Defects of English Prose by Arthur Clutton-Brock
  3. Broken Memories by Edward Thomas
  4. Likes and Dislikes by James Agate
  5. The Darkness by Robert Lynd
  6. A Village Celebration by A. A. Milne
  7. Wild Card
  8. A Defence of Shyness by Harold Nicolson
  9. 'W.G.' by Neville Cardus
  10. A Sentimental Journey by Ivor Brown
  11. On Doing Nothing by J. B. Priestley
  12. Tragedy and the Whole Truth by Aldous Huxley
  13. The Dean by V. S. Pritchett
  1. The Tombs in Westminster Abbey by Joseph Addison
  2. A Party at Vauxhall Gardens by Oliver Goldsmith
  3. Poor Relations by Charles Lamb
  4. On Not Being a Philosopher by Robert Lynd
  5. My First Article by J. B. Priestley
  6. On Familiar Style by William Hazlitt
  7. Wild Card
  8. A Piece of Chalk by G. K. Chesterton
  9. Seeing the Actors by J. B. Priestley
  10. Why We Hate Insects by Robert Lynd
  11. Imperfect Sympathies by Charles Lamb
  12. National Prejudices by Oliver Goldsmith
  13. Ladies' Head-dress by Joseph Addison


  1. On the Writing of Lyrics by P. G. Wodehouse
  2. The Critic as Artist by Oscar Wilde
  3. Reflections on Gandhi by George Orwell 
  4. Concerning the American Language by Mark Twain
  5. A Letter to a Hindu by Leo Tolstoy
  6. On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
  7. The Spirit of Japan by Rabindranath Tagore
  8. To Chekhov's Memory by Aleksandr Ivanovich Kuprin
  9. Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard III by Horace Walpole
  10. Old English Poetry by Edgar Allan Poe
  11. How I Became a Socialist by Jack London
  12. The Decline of the Drama by Stephen Leacock
  13. A Letter to Lord Chesterfield by Samuel Johnson
I will be updating this post with links to my thoughts/quotations/reviews on these essays. :)

Monday, 26 December 2016

I haven't disappeared! I've simply been disconnected these past two weeks.

Our city experienced quite the cyclone after decades just two weeks ago. Winds rushed passed us at 130km/hr. We saw quite a bit of destruction; but perhaps most upsetting was the number of trees we lost. On my drive to school we pass through about 2km of forest area. Not any more. All the trees are down now. Our networks were also down, so we had lost contact with the outside world for over a week before we learnt that our city had lost 60% of its trees to the cyclone!
It's on everyone's mind now to plant as many saplings as we can. Summer is usually scorching, but there was always the ever present shade of trees to stay cool under. Not this coming summer though. We will be reluctantly awaiting its arrival with much nervous trepidation. We've hardly had any rains this year either. Quite ironic considering the flood we had last year at around this time. For a few weeks our city was called the Venice of the East because one could travel no distance without a boat!
I find it hypnotically fascinating, the extreme changes in our weather and seasons. Sometimes I feel like I am a bystander, looking in on something bewildering but incredible. I believe I could so easily be a nervous wreck. But the simple knowledge that the Lord is in control of everything is comforting. Whilst neighbours were imagining the foundations of our building rocking in the midst of the cyclone, my husband, little boys and I had our faces pressed against the closed window panes, as we watched the wind take on a shape and force we have never witnessed in our lives before. It filled us with awe, and may I say?...a sense of peace. Only that morning, when the cyclone warning was going out, my husband's mother called him and told him to read Job 38:11. That whole chapter is beautiful, and this particular verse talks about how God has set a boundary even to the winds and the seas. Nothing can go past the limits He has set. Amazing, isn't He!?
Now, after two weeks, I have borrowed my husband's laptop as we sit in his hometown, and using his data card I've decided to dash off a post in here to let my fellow bloggers and readers know that I have not forgotten this little bit of space, only that I have been unable to log on for this while. I should be back at a fairly decent pace now.
To those of you who have been showing interest in the read-alongs I am hosting, welcome! I am very excited to be reading with you all in 2017. I shall have a starting post for each come January. Until then I hope you are all having a lovely end-of-2016 week!!:)

Thursday, 8 December 2016

I am reading the entire Bible and some Christian non-fiction in 2017.

Becky over at Operation Actually Read Bible is hosting three challenges that fall in with my reading plans for 2017, so I have decided to sign-up for them. 

Cloud of Witnesses Challenge - Where we read works of Christians of the past. This list may grow.
  1. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  2. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
  3. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  4. Paradise Lost by John Milton 

Operation Deepen Faith 2017: Christian Non-Fiction - Where we read any kind of Christian non-fiction. I am sticking with books by Christians who are still alive, so as to distinguish this challenge from the previous one.

  1. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
  2. The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias
  3. Chopped, Sprinkled and Ready to Serve: Spiritual Memoirs by Anita Lazarus 

Operation Deepen Faith 2017: Wonderful Words of Life - Where we simply read the Bible setting our own pace and limit.

Back to the Classics in 2017

I've been waiting for this challenge to come up! I've decided to stick with 6 categories for now. I don't want to make too much of a commitment, you see. However, I do have books in mind for 3 more categories should I find I have finished this lot early. So, to the list!

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2.  A 20th Century Classic -  Asterix the Gaul by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo

4.  A classic in translation - The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Matsuo Basho 

5.  A classic published before 1800 - Cymbeline by William Shakespeare

7.  A Gothic or horror classic - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

8.  A classic with a number in the title - Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome

10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit - The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

I have tried to put down titles that will not overlap with books planned for other challenges. With too much overlapping I suspect the challenges become rather pointless, don't you think? I suppose the one challenge that will definitely overlap with others is the Mount TBR one that I have already signed up for on Goodreads. But then there does have to be an exception to every rule, so...yep!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Not really my top ten, but my top two this year, so far...

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So, which new authors did I discover this year whom I have decided belong to my favourites list?

Only two come to mind:

1. Lindsay Buroker with her The Emperor's Edge series and The Fallen Empire series. The latter being one I am in the middle of reading right now. I am enjoying her characters, snarky banter, and action-packed novels. The first book in her The Empire's Edge series is free on Amazon.

2. Matsuo Basho, Japan's Shakespeare. I absolutely loved the translation I read of his The Narrow Road to the Deep North. It is a beautiful travelogue, and the haiku sometimes sent a shudder of delight through me. 

Apart from these two, I discovered a great many authors this year (which is actually quite unusual for me), but none others that I particularly care to mention under a list of favourites.

Have you read any new authors this year? Would you recommend them? What types of books do they write? Which one would you recommend I read?

On shoe flowers: a haibun

A photo taken by Chevrefeuille.
Heeding Haiku with Chevrefeuille - In which
we write a haibun based on the given photograph.
Hibiscus sounds rather boring, doesn't it? Back when I was a wee lass running about our neighbourhood in a smocking frock and sniffing the flowers, the shoe flower, as we love calling it, always beckoned me. I loved their colours -- yellow, red, pink. They burst open onto our front yard from the neighbouring plot, and often, when my adventurous cousin came to visit, we would snatch one off the plant and run. I didn't have much hair back then (not that I do so now either) but it was definitely a flower I liked to tuck in behind my ear while traipsing about. I always thought, when I had a home of my own, I would grow a shoe flower plant. However, I have yet to realise that thought. I don't really have green fingers, you see. It would likely wither away and die under my careless ministrations. My husband always says I torture my plants by showing them immense love for awhile and then neglecting them for a while longer. Sounds dreadful. But he looks after them. However, he isn't one for flowers; it's the leafy plants that survive in my little apartment. But some day I will grow a shoe flowering plant.

a thought, a dream
that slowly but surely blooms
in a red shoe flower

Friday, 2 December 2016

I suspect this might be my first Sci-Fi novel...

... and there are two reasons why I picked it up:

  1. one of the tasks for a challenge I am participating in asks that we read a sci-fi novel
  2. this one was by Lindsay Buroker
- action-packed, humorous,
adrenalin-pumping -
4/5 on Goodreads
I discovered Lindsay Buroker sometime around the beginning of this year. I was just looking for some good fantasy and happened upon her Emperor's Edge series on Amazon that had rave reviews. I took a chance on what she called her high fantasy, steampunk novels and I found I couldn't put them down until I was done with the last one. It was fast-paced and action-packed. But most of all I enjoyed her characters. So when the challenge task called for a science fiction novel, I thought of Buroker's Fallen Empire series. 

Star Nomad is the first of the lot, and fairly short with just under 250 pages. As I have come to expect of Buroker, it is a blur of action right from the very first page. Alisa Marchenko is a former Alliance pilot who is trying to get back to her little daughter after the war. She salvages and fixes her old ship, the Star Nomad and with her engineer, a former imperial cyborg, her hired bodyguard who loves to barbecue, and a couple of unsuspecting but interesting passengers, she sets off into space and finds herself heading straight into trouble after trouble after trouble...

If you're not a fan of action, this can get quite exasperating. However, it does set your adrenaline pumping, and your eyes can't help but move swiftly across the pages. As I mentioned before, one of Buroker's strengths is her characterisation. However, I felt rather let down with this book when I found Alisa was an almost exact replica of Amaranthe (the lead protagonist in The Emperor's Edge series). They both have a cleanliness fetish; they both talk nineteen to the dozen and a lot worse when they're feeling nervous or afraid; they both have the exact same sense of humour (which is quite disorienting when you've moved from the other series into this one); they both have a soft heart; and they both have a thing for men with steely dispositions. Only the frills are altered to suit circumstances and the genre. But at their core these two women are essentially the same character. 

However, once I told myself to stop comparing and contrasting the two protagonists of these two series,  I was able to get into the book and enjoy it. The mining ships reminded me of the Romulans from Star Trek, and what do you know? The author admits to being greatly influenced by that television series when she came up with this part of her plot. Like I said in the title, this is my first sci-fi novel, not counting dystopian fiction, so I cannot compare it to others of the genre. However, I have seen a few sic-fi movies, and think Star Nomad works fairly well within this genre.

Have you heard of Lindsay Buroker? Or are you into Sci-fi? Would you like to give this series a try?...In case you do, I suggest your first read The Emperor's Edge series. Not that you need to in order to read the Fallen Empire, merely that it came first. :D