Monday, 30 January 2017

The First Murder by The Medieval Murderers

The pen name of "The Medieval Murderers" hides five historical mystery writers, all members of the Crime Writers Association (Bernard Knight, Ian Morson, Philip Gooden, Susanna Gregory and Karen Maitland). It seems this is not the first book they write. I find information on another seven books they have written together. This book is not exactly what I expected (more of real time medieval murders), but turned out to be quite interesting and enjoyable. The more you get into it, the more difficult it is to put down.

The story covers the period from 1154 to 1944 and the theme is the same. Can a play possibly be cursed? It definitely seems like it. Every time The Play of Adam is enacted, somebody dies. The drama is divided into a Prologue and Epilogue with Four acts in between. The programme reads as follows:

Prologue - In which Ian Morson tells of Prior Wigod of Oseney Priory writing The Play of Adam, and how the world's first murder - of Abel by his brother Cain - is enacted with equally murderous results (1154)

Act One - In which Susanna Gregory relates how The Play of Adam travels from Oxford to Carmarthen in the year 1199, and the castle's constable and his wife encounter murder among rival clerics (1199).

Act Two - In which Karen Maitland tells how the townspeople of Ely fear that The Play of Adam has unleashed a demon upon the town, after a gruesome discovery is made in the cathedral (1361)

Act Three - In which Philip Good tells the story of a playwright who wishes to obtain revenge on William Shakespeare and comes to an unfortunate end, while player Nick Revill faces the secret agents of the Privy Council (somewhere between 1603-1616).

Act Four - In which Ian Morson writes about Doll Pocket satisfying her yearning to become an actress, while Joe Malinferno struggles with the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Unfortunately, the rehearsals for the newly discovered Play of Adam result in a murder. But has it to do with thespian jealousies, or something much more arcane? (1821)

Epilogue - In which Bernard Knight recounts how The Play of Adam is revived by an academic department during the Second World War, which provides an unexpected finale (1944).

This is a cleverly written book. As you can understand from the above The Play of Adam is in the centre of the story, travelling merciless through time. Whenever it is played, somebody dies. Already in 1199, Prior Alan knew that the play was cursed and he took his steps to never let it be played again.

"Brother Stephen, choose two of our younger brethren. Tell them they must be ready to leave Ely at dawn. They must take this scroll straight to the Benedictine House at Westminster, and give it into the hand of the abbot. He's an old friend of mine. He will understand my warning. …
'If God wills it, this Play of Adam might for once save two young lives instead of taking them.' 
He handed the scroll to Stephen, who looked down at the words his superior had written. 
In that this scroll contains Holy Writ, you shall not suffer it to be destroyed. Yet neither shall you break the seal upon it, lest fools and knaves make of it swords to slay the innocent and infect man's reason with the worm of madness.
Alan of Walsingham, Prior of Ely."

Well, obviously the play found its way out from the hidden archives. As it travels through history you get historical notes after each act. Upon these notes the authors have woven their stories. It is quite fascinating and I really enjoyed this book. On top of it, it has a great ending. A different kind of mystery, and really enjoyable. If you like history and historical fiction it is a great read.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Dr Luther and Mr Hyde by Per Svensson

This year, on the 31 October, it will be 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg. He probably did not actually nail them on the door, but this is how the story goes. Martin Luther was influenced by earlier reformist but it was Luther who sparked the Protestant Reformation. It was not supposed to be a reformist movement, but started out as a protest. In 1516 a papal commissioner was sent to Germany to raise money to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It would be sponsored by selling indulgences, and it was this tradition that Luther objected against. He wrote to his bishop, Albert of Mainz, protesting the sale of indulgences and enclosed a copy of his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences" which came to be known as the Ninety-five Theses. It was initially not a rebellious act, but more a scholarly objection. However, once the dice was rolling it went rather fast.

Dr Luther and Mr Hyde has been on my shelves for some years and I thought it would be a suitable year to read it. Per Svensson has added a sub title; "About faith and power then and now".  Looking at the circumstances at the time and comparing it to our times. You think there would be a contradiction there, but it actually works very well. If Luther had lived today he would probably have been an overworked academic, close to a burn out syndrome.  

His parents were rather prosperous, although his father worked himself into his position. Luther was put to school and university and the father had it all figured out. He would study law and be helpful in taking over the father's business. However, Luther fell into another track. When he discovered theology he knew which path he was taking. His father was not overjoyed when he decided to become a monk. He did not intend to stay quietly in a monastery. Luther was one of the most educated people of his days and also one of the most productive persons when it came to writing and translations.

Luther was an author and a commentator on all things cultural. After his attack on the indulgences he found himself an international celebrity. His ideas were discussed everywhere and his writings were printed in never heard of editions. He was a man of many talents and disguises. He was an anti-semite, he was accused of going the errands of the princes and kings, he was a dissident and a speaker for freedom. Per Svensson refer to a Swedish historian Ronny Ambjörnsson who says that Luther's teachings are like; "a bow stretched between extremes, between fear and trust, kindness and anger, freedom and coercion." He continues with an observation which the author considers to be central for the understanding of Martin Luther. "His historical force has its ultimate foundation in that these conflicts exist, so to speak, on two levels, both between people in a society and within each one of these people". (My translation)  This is also why Per Svensson has named his book Dr Luther and Mr Hyde, referring to the conflict between good and evil in R.L. Stevenson's novel.

It is an interesting book where we come a little bit closer to the person Martin Luther, as far as this is possible. It also gives an interesting history of the times in which he was living, the politics, the religion, the wars. In January 1521 he was excommunicated by Pope Leo X and became a wanted man. He had a protector in Frederick III (the Wise) who kept him in a monastery as protection for some years before he could come back to Wittenberg. It was during his time in the monastery that Martin Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into German, as well as doctrinal writings.

In 1525 Luther married Katharina von Bora, one of 12 nuns he had helped escape from a convent. Although some other priests had married, it was Luther's marriage that set the precedence on clerical marriage. They seem to have had a happy marriage, though money was often short. They had six children and lived in a former monastery. Katharina took care of farming the land and taking boarders in order to earn some money.

Per Svensson is a writer and journalist and has thoroughly researched this book. It is easy to read and sometimes feels like a thriller considering the worried times, the excommunication and the hunting down on dissidents. He manages to provide a personal portrait of Luther. One is full of admiration for this man who lived his whole life with an idea, and managed to spread it among people. He had a dual personality, very quick in temper and did not always live himself according to his own doctrines. He was never afraid of speaking his mind.

This is a book written in Swedish. However, lots of books are certainly available on Martin Luther; the man, his work, his family and the times in which he managed to change a religion and take it away from the Catholic church. These days, the two churches of Christianity are working together to promote their belief. After all, the overall message is the same.  It is certainly an interesting topic and I might try to read something else about the history of the two religions.

Monday, 23 January 2017

A visit to the furniture fair in Cologne

On Saturday morning we took the car to drive just over two hours to Köln (Cologne). The last week saw the yearly furniture fair there, and this was the first time we went there. Great fun, as always, visiting fairs, where the theme is interesting to you. We have earlier visited the Boat fair in Düsseldorf, the Book Fair in Frankfurt and now it was time to look as some furniture and be inspired.

Hugh halls that displayed furniture from all over the world. It was just to walk around, trying out and be inspired by the variety of designs. Some really great furniture to go into the future. The theme this year was kitchens and this was really interesting. So many new gadgets that you don't need! But great to have. I got quite interested in a fan that is built in, in the ceramic stove and makes the fumes go downwards rather than upwards. A burner in the shape of a wok rather than flat. Just to place you wok there and the heat will go up along the sides.

Here are some ideas to consider.

If you want to have a pool table, but don't have the space? Why not combine it with the dining table? Just to turn the top when you feel like a game!

Or why not combine your dining table to play table tennis?

Do you have old chairs you don't use any more? Why not paint them and hang them in the ceiling?

You have some left over copper pipes? Why not make them into lamps?

You don't know where to put your bike? Here is a suggestion.

You think the muscles in your stomach are getting soft and the six-pack of your buddy is not there anymore? Well, you can always buy a cupboard like this one. Just to remember what once was!

Now, it is time to reflect on everything we saw and see if we can come up with some nice designs in our own home.

What about you? Do you like going to fairs? If so, which kind of fairs do you enjoy?

Monday, 16 January 2017

Best books read in 2016

My reading in 2016 was slightly interrupted due to unexpected, but nice circumstances. Therefore I Light in August by William Faulkner and Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh). I somehow have a feeling that I just haphazardly read books, without much thought behind. Might not be wrong, but I felt a little bit "wobbly" with my reading. For 2017 I will be more disciplined and try to approach books in a more consolidated way.

Best book of the year!
did not read as much as anticipated. As usual I more or less liked the books I read. Those I really disliked I did not read. I think it was two (

However, there are, as always, some books that stand out more than others. Here are my favourite reads for 2016 in no specific order.

Bess: the Life of Lady Ralegh, Wife to Sir Walter by Anna Beer
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Sage of Waterloo by Leona Francombe
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
The Other Rembrandt by Alex Connor
De gömda rummen (Habitaciones cerradas) by Care Santos
The Sleepwalkers - How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho
Påven som kom ner på jorden (The Pope who came down to earth) by Kristina Kappelin

If I would pick one I would probably go for The Sleepwalkers, which is an interesting and very complex look into the politics and circumstances behind the Great War.  Excellent read.

I also took a look at the genres I have been reading. You can of course divide them into a lot of genres, but I kept it to four: Non-fiction, Fiction, Historical fiction and Classics. Of the 77 books I read, 45% goes to Fiction, 25% to Non-fiction, 16% to Historical fiction and 14% to Classics. Considering that historical fiction and classics are also fiction, I read 75% fiction and 25% non-fiction. That is generally a good piece of cake for me!

Looking forward to what 2017 will bring.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The Pleasure of an Ending!

Is it not wonderful to have an ending from time to time? When you read books you normally have an ending. But what happens when you read a series? Is there an ending in sight? It depends on if you know that there are three, four, five or whatever number of books in the series. But if it only goes on and on? It is ok, when each book in a series is also a finished story.

To be frank it is not so common within the literary world, I am thinking more of the world of TV-series. There seems to be a never ending number of series that just go on and on an on! Yes, I know, it does depend on how many people watch it, if there will be a continuation or not. Even worse if you ask me.

I also love to follow series with several seasons. However, unless you base your series on books, they write them as they come. I find that when you come to season 3 or 4, or around there, the stories tend to thin out. It sometimes becomes more and more crazy and the wonderful storyline you had from the beginning is lost 'in translation'.

Therefore it was such a pleasure to see Penny Dreadful. Well, pleasure and pleasure! I did like it, although it was sometimes too bloody for my taste, too spooky and rather dark. However, I loved the way they integrated literary figures in the story. Excellent actors on top of it, made for a great series. I had no idea what it was about before I started watching it. When I came to the end of the third season, and the story had reached an end, I was thinking; "OK, is this the end or they are just going to continue"? Then I saw it. It was like a revelation. THE END! Yes, they actually said it was the end. Just like you used to see it in the old movies. I was so happy that they finished when it was at its best, instead of dragging on and on and taking it down because they could not come up with more good stories.

That is the reason I am happy that Game of Thrones will reach its last season this year, number 10. Personally, I think they should have wrapped it up much earlier. The last seasons tended to drag on and on and became quite uninteresting. I hope that the last season will be wrapped up satisfactorily.

Another series I am following is Outlander. Based on Diana Gabaldon's series of books, of which she is now writing number 9. She has said there will be 10. I think it is good to be able to look forward to an ending and wrap up of the story. Of course I am looking forward to as many seasons of the TV-series as the number of books. Fantastic adaptation of the books!

The Poldark series by Winston Graham is another set of books that I love. There are 12 of them, and I have read 6 so far. Trying to keep up and read them before watching the series. Here is another wonderful adaptation of the books.

What do you think? Do you appreciate and ending?

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

To be a lady: Story of Catherine Cookson by Cliff Goodwin

I love reading biographies, especially about writers. It gives another dimension to their work, you can see what has inspired them and how they use their own experiences in life to give us wonderful stories. One of the most interesting writers in this regard must be Catherine Cookson.

I remember reading and loving her books when I was young, but have not read any for ages. It was with great interest I started Cliff Goodwin's account on her life, of which I must admit, I did not know anything. What a fantastic surprise! You sometimes say that reality exceeds any fiction, and here you have the proof. To read Goodwin's biography of Catherine Cookson is like reading one of her books. It is interesting, exciting, thrilling and amazing. What a life, what a deed. I am full of admiration for this wonderful lady.

One of the most important happenings in her life is actually her birth. She was born out of wedlock and it was a matter that affected her whole life. She kept it secret for many years. It might seem a trivial thing for us, today, but at the time it was considered a foul thing.

She grew up as Catherine McMullen and her childhood was poor. She lived with her mother at her grandparents in South Tyneside in the North East of England. The grandfather, working in the mine, had the main income of the house, but it was mostly wasted away on drinking. Drinking was a big, but maybe natural, problem of the days, and it included her mother.  Seeing the dire future for people, one does not wonder that they tried to forget their problems by looking too deep in the bottle.

We learn that the father probably came from an educated family. Maybe that is why Catherine from an early age was interested in reading, which, as she grew up, made her want to write herself. She saved a penny wherever she could and bought books to read.  She started writing short stories already in her youth, and even sent some of them to papers, without success. She realised that grammar and educational background was lacking in her efforts to go for a profession of writing.

She left school already at 14. It was the normal age at the time, when children had to help support the family. After a couple of domestic places she took a laundry job at the Harton Workhouse in South Shields. She saved most of her salary, to buy books and made an effort to read books to improve her knowledge. Some years later she moved to another workhouse in Hastings, where she took her saved money, bought a huge house and kept lodgers.

Now her life took a turn to the better. She meets a teacher, Tom Cookson, who was a lodger with her mother. They discover already from the beginning of their relationship that they are soul mates in all things.  With the help of Tom's educated mind she reads, learns and discuss all topics and he is drawn in by her energy and positiveness. They are a match made in heaven. He moves in as her lodger, but it takes a couple of years before they marry.

After four miscarriages it was discovered that she suffered from a rare disease, telangiectasia, possibly inherited from her unknown father. It causes bleeding from the nose, fingers and stomach and results in anemia. She had suffered from nose bleeds all her life and here was the reason. She fell into a depression which lasted a decade. To do something she started writing and joined the Hastings Writers' Group. This led to the publication of her first book, Kate Hannigan, when she was 41. Once she started writing there was not way stopping her. She must be one of the most productive writers ever and wrote a number of novels every years.

She became immensely popular, but kept her private life private. Tom and Catherine answered all the fan posts personally, which over the time became quite a lot of work. Catherine Cookson wrote almost 100 books, sold more than 123 million copies and had her novels translated into at least 20 languages. She also wrote under the pseudonym Catherine Marchant. Her books were the most borrowed from public libraries in the UK for 17 years. She died in 1998.

Goodwin's biography finishes when she was elevated to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993. I find the biography a marvellous account on a marvellous life. Her life had everything, poverty/riches, sadness/happiness, various diseases that affected her life. But above all she had the gift to write, to reach out to people, to tell a good story. Not only a story, but stories based on real life. She did not want her books to be referred to as romances, which was often the case. "No", she said, "they are historical fiction". Goodwin transfers a life well lived, into an exciting and thrilling account of Catherine Cookson's life. It was quite difficult to put the book down. Above, I have just chosen to highlight small parts of her life, and the biography contains so much more. One is full of admiration for this lady, who fought all her life against her demons, depressions and diseases, and still managed to bring so much happiness to others.

I received a copy of this e-book from Endeavour Press in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017

I will join again this year, the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017, hosted by My Reader's Block. I love how it lowers my TBR shelves, and I love the wrap ups every three months. A great challenge which saw me reading 51 books from these shelves last year. My ambition is to read more this year. Somehow I think I will have more time to read this year! Here are the rules in short. Head over to Bev's webpage (link above) for more details.


Challenge Levels:

Pike's Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR piles/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s

And the rules:
*Once you choose your challenge level, you are locked in for at least that many books. If you find that you're on a mountain-climbing roll and want to tackle a taller mountain, then you are certainly welcome to upgrade.  All books counted for lower mountains carry over towards the new peak.

*Challenge runs from January 1 to December 31, 2017.

*You may sign up anytime from now until November 1st, 2017.

*Books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2017. No library books.

Last year I reached part way up the Mt. Kilimanjaro. Aiming at Mt. Everest this year.

Not even close to Pike's Peak!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

6 Degrees of Separation

Beginning of the month, so time for 6 Degrees of Separation hosted by Books Are My Favourite And Best. This month's chain begins with Stieg Larsson's thriller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I have this book on my shelves and read it several years ago. I really like it and the following two books. I have not read the new one, which is a sequel written by David Lagercrantz'.

I have read another book by Lagercrantz though. That is I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which is a biography of our great football player Zlatan. I really enjoyed the book and got a totally different opinion about Zlatan as well. Towards the positive side, and I am now a big fan of his (almost all the time!).

Talking about biographies, a genre I love, I continue with a book I just finished (review will come). That is Cliff Goodwin's To Be a Lady: Story of Catherine Cookson. Fascinating biography of a fascinating author that has spellbound us for so many years. An amazing storyteller she is.

I read her when I was young, but have not read anything lately. I would therefor read some more of her books. Maybe one of her acclaimed ones, The Fifteen Streets which is, like many of her books, based on her own life experiences.

I continue with a number in the title, The Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield. Still to read, I find the story fascinating. "Vida Winter, a famous novelist in England, has evaded journalists' questions about her past, refusing to answer their inquiries and spinning elaborate tales that they later discover to be false. Her entire life is a secret: and, for over fifty years, reporters and biographers have tried innumerable methods in an attempt to extract the truth from Winter." (From Wikipedia).  The link here is not only the number in the title, but Catherine Cookson was also a famous novelist with a secret.

Secrets (are they not wonderfully exciting?) takes us to Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper. Having recently read The Distant Hours and loving it, I look forward reading this tale on a family secret.

Secrets takes us to murders and The Medieval Murderers - The First Murder is a book about medieval secrets and murders. Sounds exciting, don't you think?

My thread from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, goes to writer David Lagercrantz who wrote the sequel to the series. He is also the common nominator for the next book about Zlatan. This is a biography, so that word is the link to a biography about Catherine Cookson. I continue with one of her book titles, The Fifteen Streets, which leads me to another novel with a number in the title, The Thirteenth Tale. It is doubly connected to Catherine Cookson who had a secret in her life, as the fictional figure in The Thirteenth Tale. Secret is the word leading us the The Medieval Murderers. Murders are secrets, aren't they?  With this book I end this months' 6 degrees of separation.

See you next month!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

What's in a Name 2017

Loved the What's in a name 2016 challenge during 2016 and if it hadn't been for William Faulkner, I would have finished it properly. I am full of confidence for the 2017 challenge, as usual hosted by The Worm Hole.

Here are the criteria:
The challenge runs from January to December. During this time you choose a book to read from each of the following categories. (Examples of books you could choose are in brackets – translations and other languages most definitely count!):

  • A number in numbers (84, Charing Cross Road; 12 Years A Slave; 31 Dream Street) - The World Around in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  • A building (The Old Curiosity Shop; I Capture The Castle; House Of Shadows; The Invisible Library; Jamaica Inn) To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • A title which has an ‘X’ somewhere in it (The Girl Next Door; The Running Vixen) - Kansler Axel Oxenstierna 1 & 2 by Gunnar Wetterberg
  • A compass direction (North and South; Guardians Of The West; The Shadow In The North; NW) - Civilazation - The West and the Rest by Nial Ferguson
  • An item/items of cutlery (The Subtle Knife; Our Spoons Came From Woolworths) - The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
  • A title in which at least two words share the same first letter – alliteration! (The Great Gatsby; The Luminous Life Of Lilly Aphrodite; Gone Girl; The Cuckoo’s Calling) - Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux

All titles come from my TBR shelves, except The Disappearing Spoon. It was rather a challenge to find a title with a cutlery item in it, but this seems to be a very interesting book.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

What's in a Name - wrap up post 2016

I really enjoyed this challenge hosted by Wormhole.  I almost made it, but I just could not finish the last book, Light in August by William Faulkner. I have to admit, that I don't really like his books. This was the second book I tried by him. I finished Sanctuary, but did not really like it.

Otherwise I finished the challenge and read the following books.

I enjoyed all books except Faulkner. Hardy's book was a little bit more tricky.  I am a big fan of Hardy, but here he writes in dialect, and I always find it hard to read. It was also rather slow in the beginning, but picked up in the last part. His writing is always beautiful.

Now looking forward to the same challenge in 2017! Thank you to The Worm Hole for hosting.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Summary reviews of December reads

I did read a few books during December, but it was so busy, so I did not have time to do any reviews. Here is a short summary of the books.

The Four Swans by Winston Graham: No 6 in the Poldark saga and we are entering into the second generation of Poldarks. Ross and Demelza, Elizabeth and Warleggan are still there, but other family members enters the story. Well told as usual. Interesting insight into the politics and wars at the time, mixed with unexpected family drama. Time for the 7th book which is The Angry Tide.

Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy: I bough this book visiting his childhood house in Dorset. I love the writing of Hardy, but had some difficulties with this one. Partly because it was written in dialect, and I find it difficult to read. The first half was rather uninteresting, but the latter part picked up and I enjoyed this local story of young love and countryside traditions.

Five Great Short Stories by Anton Chekhov: I have had this for years, without reading it, although it is not only short stories, but the content is rather short as well. Enjoyable short stories from the Russian nobility or middle class, revealing dramas from family lives.

Den andra himlen (The Other Sky (my translation)) by Oline Stig: A new purchase from a lady who is also a teacher in writing. Wonderful short stories about ordinary people who acts extraordinarily. You are never sure what will happen until the very end, and than you are quite surprised. There is a special story inside of which I will tell you more later. Quite wonderful and I am looking forward reading more by her.

Påven som kom ner på jorden (The Pope who came down to earth (my translation)) by Kristina Kappelin. Kappelin is a writer and journalist, living since many years in Italy. She has followed pope Franciskus since he was elected, and has written a very interesting biography. We become familiar with his background, ideas, career until he became the pope. From there she has looked into his actions and beliefs and presents a man that comes out as very humble, interesting in people and in the church. Wishing to be there for everyone and not being afraid to speak out in various questions.

Ord av kärlek (Words of love): A small book I received for Christmas, all about love. Poems, quotes and thoughtful ideas about love. A good way to end the reading of the year.

Now I am looking forward to a new reading year. I am still thinking on how to choose which books to read. Where do I want to go with my reading? Apart from lowering my TBR shelves, I would like to read new books, books you all talk about. I also want to choose books from my "To Read" list which is getting longer and longer, without any of them being read. I want to read different genres, Fiction and Non-Fiction. Let's see if my word for the year SPARKLE will help me choose well for 2017.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Two TBR challenges fulfilled!

I enrolled in two challenges to lower my TBR shelves for 2016. I am happy to say that I have fulfilled both of them, although I had to skip a couple of mountains for one of them.

There is the Shelf Love Challenge hosted by Second Run Reviews. I opted for 51+ and that is exactly what I have read, 51 books (list below).

The other challenge is the Mount TBR Reading Challenge, hosted by My Reader's Block. I opted for 100 books, but due to a very busy year with unexpected happenings, I have only read 51 (list below). But that is good enough. So how far up the mountain does that bring me? I opted for Mt. Everest with my 100 books, but only made it 5.010 m up the Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is 5,895 m high. Well, being a fan of Hemingway, I am happy I made it a bit up this mountain at least.

Here is the list which covers both Challenges!

1. The life-changing magic of tidying by Marie Kondo
2. Our Man in Havanna by Graham Greene
3. Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
4. The German Woman by Paul Griner
5. Under jorden i Villette by Ingrid Hedström
6. The Almost Nearly Perfect People - Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth
7. The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
8. The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevallier
9. Amsterdam - A History of the World's Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto
10. Che by Björn Kumm (audio)
11. The Sage of Waterloo by Leona Francombe
12. Selected works by Alexander Pushkin
13. Blekingegatan 32 by Lena Einhorn
14. How can one not be interested in Belgian History by various authors
15. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
16. Alkemistens dotter (The Alchemist's Daughter) by Carl-Michael Edenborg
17. The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
18. Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach
19. The Other Rembrandt by Alex Connor
20. Stormaktens sista krig by Olle Larsson
21. Mad Women by Jane Maas
22. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson
23. Travels With my Aunt by Graham Greene
24. The hand that first held mine by Maggie O'Farrell
25. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
26. Tower - An Epic History of the Tower of London by Nigel Jones
27. The First Wife by Emily Barr
28. The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark
29. Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler
30. The Knights Templar in Britain by Evelyn Lord
31. Nässlorna blomma (Flowering Nettle) by Harry Martinsson
32. The Rare and the Beautiful by Cressida Connolly
33. K is for Killer by Sue Grafton
34. The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig
35. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
36. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
37. Grymhet by Birgitta Lindqvist
38. The Hour Glass Factory by Lucy Ribchester
39. Croissant till frukost by Annika Estassy
40. Cirkeln by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren
41. Sense and Sensibilities by Jane Austen
42. Dansa på deadline (Dancing on Deadline) by Alexander Rozental and Lina Wennersten
43. Mrs Robinson's Disgrace (The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady) by Kate Summerscale
44. Färjan by Mats Strandberg
45. Blodröd måne över Villette by Ingrid Hedström
46. The Binding Chair by Kathryn Harrison
47. The Witch from Portobello by Paul Coelho
48. Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
49. Five Great Short Stories by Anton Chekhov
50. Den andra himlen by Oline Stig
51. Påven som kom ner på jorden by Kristina Kappelin

Two great challenges of which I am signing up again for 2017. See you there somewhere along the TBR shelves and mountains!