So once again another new year has rolled around along with the inevitable new year resolutions. As regular readers of my blog will know I don’t really have a lot of patience for the New Year’s bandwagon of giving things up for January. It’s good that people make changes if they wish, but if you ask me they would be more realistic being long term goals rather than go hell for leather in January and revert to normal in February. I also think that the January trends always seem very negative, social media is awash with people giving things up or losing things. Last year rather than giving anything up I gave myself three challenges for the year (not resolutions of course) One was to read 50 books – tick, one was to run 5 10ks – no tick but that was courtesy of a dodgy knee, and the third was to swim twice a week – almost a tick.
Challenges as opposed to resolutions are a good thing I think, as long as they are positive challenges. Yet like everything there are two sides to them. There has been a lot of recent discussion in the world of book blogging around whether or not it is good to have reading challenges. I understand how sometimes it can get overwhelming. I enjoy reviewing on this blog but I do also just want to read for fun not always to review. The good thing about both reading challenges and book reviewing is that you get to read things you wouldn’t normally choose. I’ve read new authors that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on without the blog, I’ve also read novels from established authors that I wouldn’t have tried without the TOPCWFC.
I think that’s where most New Year Resolutions fall down. They always seem to be about giving things up. Maybe resolutions should look to be about trying new things. There would certainly be more chance for me to actually complete them if that was the case.
Most years I try and do something new. Last year I went on a sewing course, previously I’ve done courses on all sorts of stuff including cake baking, jewellery making, and criminology. I’ve taken up new hobbies including jogging, horse riding, and of course blogging.
View of the flooded racecourse
However last year I didn’t do anything new (unless trying a glass of prosecco with sloe gin counts?) so rather than make a whole bunch of new resolutions that I probably won’t do, I’m only going to do one. That’s to make this the year to try something new. Not sure what yet but it won’t involve giving anything up for January. Having recently seen the devastation caused by the local floods which affected not only people’s homes, but also small businesses in the city including the lovely little bar where I had the aforementioned drink, rather than give things up I’m going to make this the year of new things. Starting with trying some new drinks in some of the local cafés and bars that are trying to get back on their feet. Trying my hand at horse racing might need to be more of a long term challenge though at least until things have dried out a bit. Whatever your resolution or challenge – happy new year to all my readers and here’s to a positive 2016.
The Ice Twins by S.K Tremayne was a recent ‘listen to’ rather than actual read. As I’ve previously mentioned I walk most places and occasionally attempt to jog. Both of these are hobbies that are made better with an audible book. Being read to can often be a bit hit and miss though. You are as reliant on the person who is reading it, as you are on the actual quality of the writing. I’ve started listening to a number of books over the years that I have had to give up on due to the really annoying voices of the readers.
This however was not one of them, and despite some of the fake Scottish accents sounding a bit comedy this was a really interesting listen.
Sarah and Angus are mourning the death of one of their identical twins. In order to try and move on with their lives they relocate to a remote island in the Scottish highlands (I think!) with their remaining twin Kirstie. However things don’t go as planned when Kirstie states she is actually Lydia and that they have been mourning the wrong twin.
I really enjoyed this book despite a few reservations. The main one being that I didn’t really like or get a proper feel for any of the main characters. There were times that if I had been reading the actual book, I would have had to flick back through to see if I’d missed something key as to why the characters acted as they did. Obviously it is not that simple when you are listening.
On the plus side, the Ice Twins was incredibly atmospheric. There was a lot of description of the surrounding area which added to the creepy feeling throughout the book. You got the impression of the bleakness and despair that the family felt as they spiralled further down into weirdness. The book was quite slow going, but this added to the overall feel. It was almost like it was written in slow motion, you can see what is about to happen but you can’t stop it.
I did think it was a bit odd that the parents couldn’t tell the twins apart, I don’t know anything about twins so I may be wrong but you’d think that by the time they are 6 there would be something distinctive enough about each of them to tell them apart. Saying that however, our main narrator is Sarah and she is clearly unreliable. It’s almost a chicken and egg situation, what came first, was it Kirstie saying she is Lydia, or did Sarah give her the idea?
I’m usually not a huge fan of ghost stories but this was more thriller than ghost and even by the end I wasn’t really clear was it a haunting or was it just confusion. This story was definitely worth a listen to and made my walk to work much more interesting.
I have recently taken up running again. Now I’m never going to be a marathon runner, but I would like to be able to run a full 10k eventually. Therefore I started small and downloaded a couch to 5k programme on my phone, got myself a new audio book (Jeffery Deaver, the skin collector) and started pounding the streets.
I do like the idea of being a runner, the whole running along the beach with the wind in my hair looking carefree and gorgeous really appeals to me. However the reality is not quite like that. Apart from the short hair not really blowing in the wind, more times than not I run for five minutes and turn into a red faced sweating machine unable to string a sentence together whilst cursing the blisters on my feet. I know all the theory, I buy the magazines and I’ve read umpteen books on running however I’m just not very good at it. I know that like anything it takes practice and in order to become a runner you have to actually put the effort in but sometimes I’m not sure the effort is worth the outcome.
I suppose my problem is willpower, and I’m the same with reading. I love reading and always have a few books on the go. However there are some books that although I really like the idea of having read them I never actually get to the end. Take Jane Eyre, I roughly know the story but if I was actually quizzed on it I don’t think I’d know the answers. Pride and prejudice is another of those classics that it seems the majority of the world says they’ve read, but I haven’t. I have read the story of Charlotte Bronte’s life, but not her actual books despite part of me wanting to. Its the effort I suppose, and like with the running I often start but never quite finish.
I don’t think it’s because I lack stamina, I’ve posted 131 times on this blog for example so obviously I can keep up with some things. Although even with this I’ve read many more books over the year than I’ve actually reviewed on here. I suppose its just about effort level.
Sometimes things just click, for example I have read Gone with the Wind which would come under the long classics bracket, and I really enjoyed it. Equally last week I had a lovely run along the canal and although there was still alot of walk breaks being taken actually I felt like a runner, but other times things just don’t seem to work.
I suppose it’s all about how much you want the outcome, and accepting that maybe you just don’t want some things quite as much as you think you do. Therefore I’ll keep reading crime and reviewing, I’ll keep attempting to run and ignoring the worried looks of passer by’s as I run up behind them and they suspect a herd of elephants has got loose, but I may just have to accept that marathons and the complete works of Shakespeare are just never going to happen.