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Sunday, 13 July 2014

A Book a Day in July: 7th-12th

It's time for my second Book a Day post!  As you may recall from the first instalment, this is based on a Twitter project called #bookadayUK, where bookish types can tweet their responses to a series of daily prompts.  After it proved a success in June, it was taken up by Doubleday UK, who have continued it into July.  Talking about the books here on the blog instead means I don't have to worry about the 140-character limit, and I can group a few days together.  Onwards!

Here we go!  Feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments, and head over to Twitter if you fancy taking part in the original project...
July 7th: Most chocolatey novel - it's National Chocolate Day!
Well, this one's a no-brainer.  The clue's in the title - it's got to be Chocolat by Joanne Harris!  I'd already fallen in love with the film (and still prefer the movie, I think) but the book has more of a magical feel, and the descriptions of food (especially chocolate!) are just mouthwatering.  Definitely not one to read without a stockpile of sweet treats on hand to indulge your cravings...
July 8th: Favourite Great War novel
I don't think I've ever read one, though I've definitely got a couple on my shelves, including All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, which I've heard is amazing.  I have read novels set in World War II though, my favourite of which is probably Atonement by Ian McEwan.  That book ripped my heart out, stomped on it and gave it back, and had a bit of everything in there - romance, family, war at home and abroad...  Robbie's narrative, in particular, was so evocative of the endless days of fear and exhaustion as the army retreated to Dunkirk - it was amazing. (My review)
July 9th: Most irritating character in a novel
Absolutely no contest here - it's got to be the vile Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series.  I just... ugh.  I hate her so much that I literally can't watch Imelda Staunton in anything else now without feeling a wave of revulsion.  But it's a different kind of hate to, say, Voldemort.  With him it's like, "Whoah, this guy's terrifying... I'm just gonna be over here hiding in a corner."  With Umbridge I felt more like when I was at school and a really nasty teacher would humiliate someone in class for no reason.  Definitely more a "THAT BITCH NEEDS TO GO DOOOOOOWN" kind of thing.  All that pink!  All those little coughs!  All that sickly sweet malevolence!  NOOOOOPE.

July 10th: Novel with the most memorable picnic for Teddy Bear's Picnic Day!
The Malory Towers books by Enid Blyton - and most other Enid Blyton series, to be honest!  I particularly remember that whenever parents came to visit the school, there would always be amazing picnics.  Sometimes the girls would go out with their families and friends for a picnic on the clifftop somewhere, or there'd be a Strawberry Tea held at the school for everyone to enjoy.  Let's face it, all Enid Blyton books are MADE by the picnics - bottles of ginger beer, hard boiled eggs with twists of salt, apples, slabs of cake and gingerbread, thick slices of bread...  Okay now I've made myself hungry.
July 11th: The book that made you cry
Ohhhh, I'm a real book crier.  One of the worst offenders for me has to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows...  I mean, I knew going into it that it was probably going to be bad, but I ended up having my heart ripped out over and over again as the pages went by.  I sobbed and sobbed, and then sobbed some more, and I gave myself a crying headache, and had to take naps because I'd exhausted myself.  **SPOILERS** The losses with the strongest emotional ties got me hardest - Fred, obviously, because of leaving a twin brother and a close-knit family behind, and Lupin and Tonks, lying side by side in the Great Hall.  I think that one was bad because they'd finally found happiness, they'd got baby Teddy, AND you didn't see them die, it was just one more wretched twist of the knife at the end as the battle's full body count was revealed.  OH JO HOW COULD YOU?!  Anyway, this is the reason I haven't reread all the books yet, and also why I haven't seen the Deathly Hallows movies.  I need to be feeling strong before I go there.  :'(
July 12th: Novel that best conjured a place for you
This was quite hard to choose, but I think the most recent example would probably be The Shining by Stephen King.  Because the Overlook Hotel is pretty much a character in its own right, King brings it alive so that you can almost smell the dankness of Room 237, the liquor in the bar and the wintry leaves of the topiary in the grounds; you can hear the dull echo of sounds in the corridors and the cold howling of the wind outside...  That hotel's definitely going to take some beating as far as vivid settings go. (My double review)
That's everything so far!  I'll be back soon with more; in the meantime, what would you have picked for some or all of these daily prompts?


  1. Oh, I love this! I haven't read Chocolat... yet, but oh, do I love the movie. I guess I'd have to go with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- I still love that book after all these years! Hmm, for the Great War books... I guess I'd have to pick John Jake's North and South, because I'd been obsessed with the mini-series and it prompted me to read the novel when I was a teen. I am SO with you on Dolores Umbridge- she's worse than Voldemort! I can only think of Anne of Green Gables for picnics, too many books have broken my heart, and Deathly Hallows is right up there with the top offenders, and I'd have to say The Night Circus was the best at conjuring up a place in my mind, even though the circus doesn't really exist, it dwells quite complete and perfect in my mind. :)

    1. OMG HOW DID I FORGET CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY?! I think Chocolat maybe still pips it to the post though, just because of all the melty romantic exotic goodness.

      Books break my heart on a regular basis, it's true. If you're an emotional reader, there's just no getting away from it. The Notebook was another one that sprang to mind - how could it not? - but the body count for Deathly Hallows was just too high for it not to win.

      I really need to read The Night Circus! Everyone else in my family read it last year and said it was amazing, the rest of the WORLD read it before THAT, and... it's still on my shelves. Oooops. :(

  2. OH yes, my heart is STILL aching from Atonement. I read it on the airplane and when it came to the part I put the book down and just sobbed and sobbed until I could pick it back up again. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

    Chocolat is one that I've always wanted to read. I love the movie so much.

    1. RIGHT?! For about a fortnight after I finished the book, every time I thought about it I burst into tears again. I think it was that slightly throwaway nature of the revelation - and also the fact that I'd been so relieved earlier when it seemed all was well. (Trying not to spoiler here for any idle comment-readers, but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.)

      The Chocolat movie's maybe still my favourite, because the book's a little different - but the exoticism and slightly magical nature of the book was lovely to read. I get put off Joanne Harris novels now by the god-awful font in the Black Swan paperbacks though. Funny how that happens. I HATE IT SO MUCH!

  3. What excellent choices!! I have not read Chocolat, but I adore books with a magical feel to them and descriptions of food! I'm participating in the BookTube-A-Thon read-a-thon right now and my pick for book to movie adaptation is Atonement! I have been meaning to read this one forever as I feel like I am the last person on the planet who hasn't done so yet! I'm glad to see that it was one of those books that stuck with you. I am even more excited to read it now! And also- I hate that Dolores Umbridge, too.

    1. I AM TOTALLY STALKING THE BOOKTUBE-A-THON. Well, I'm trying to anyway - the videos are pouring into my inbox at such a rate that I'm a bit behind, but I'm enjoying them so much! Yours are in there somewhere, I know. Something about the enthusiasm of a readathon always inspires me to read more, even if I'm not taking part. :)

      I haven't watched the movie version of Atonement yet, but I want to. Sometime. And not just because of James McAvoy, I SWEAR. :P

  4. I love that you picked Dolores Umbridge as your most annoying character. I totally concur. That woman...ugh. J.K. Rowling wrote her oh so well as a total psychopath, but then Imelda's portrayal just completely cemented my loath for her. She is awful. Great pick. Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie

    1. Right?! I think the worst thing is that most of us have had teachers who are a kind of less powerful version of Umbridge: someone completely unreasonable, unpleasant and generally awful. Imelda Staunton IS Umbridge now, for me, in a way that the other characters aren't to the same extent. AAARGH SHE GIVES ME THE HEEBIE JEEBIES. :(

  5. For a good cry book---you have to read The Fault in Our Stars! I balled!

    1. I'm definitely a book crier, so TFioS is bound to get me. A Walk to Remember did, a few years back, so... I'll have the tissues ready. Unfortunately I've already been spoilered for the ending, not that that usually makes any difference in the sobbing stakes! :(


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