The Belfast Post

Back in December, a friend asked me about where I am in Irelandisland, and for some recommendations of things to do in my area. Since first moving to Belfast in September 2012, I’ve not snapped many photos of the city in a super touristy capacity, so when my friend made her request, I spent a day or two carrying around a camera and playing tourist.

But first, a few little facts about this wee city:

  • Belfast is the capital and the largest city of Northern Ireland, and has a population of 580,000 in the metropolitan area (thank you, Wikipedia);
  • The name “Belfast” comes from the Irish “Béal Feirste”, which means “sandy ford at river mouth”, and the city is a major port;
  • Although Northern Ireland is physically located on the island of Ireland, it is politically (though I use that term warily) part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and uses the UK international dialling code as well as the Pound Sterling;
  • That being said, the rest of the UK sometimes forgets about Northern Ireland, and many services/shops/etc in Great Britain (consisting of England, Scotland, and Wales) don’t have branches or even deliver to Northern Ireland;
  • Northern Ireland became such in 1921, when the island of Ireland was partitioned between Northern and Southern Ireland;
  • The “South”/Republic of Ireland is a different country, with a different currency (the Euro), and different official languages (Irish and English). And although locals sometimes refer to Ireland as “the South”, there are parts of Ireland that extend to the north of the Ireland, such as County Donegal (it can all get a little confusing);
  • When things get confusing, drink Guinness;
  • The Titanic was built in Belfast, and shipped off to Southampton (in England) where it set sail;
  • Game of Thrones is filmed in Belfast and around Northern Ireland (which may have influenced my decision to move here); and
  • You can become an extra on Game of Thrones through an extras company, but in order to sign up for the company, you have to have a Northern Irish National Insurance Number (basically an Australian Tax File Number or an American Social Security Number), and in order to do that, you can’t be elsewhere in the UK, but must be living and working in Northern Ireland (see above parenthetical note).

And now, here are a few photos of this wee city:

belfast-01

Just a little street, with lovely terraced houses.

belfast-02

A lovely little river underneath a lovely little bridge. Unfortunately, the grey sky is all too common a sight.

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2015 Reading Challenges and General Booktastic Insanity

I had so much fun with my two reading challenges from 2014, I’ve decided to sign up for four more in 2015, and also host (and participate in) my own reading challenge.

Yup, you’ve read that right—I’ll be taking on five reading challenges in 2015. Thankfully, I’ve been frequenting my local library lately, which means I won’t be amassing too many books here that may need to be donated once/if I leave this part of the world. And if I get super duper desperate, I can always include an academic monographs or fifty. (Actually, no, I won’t. My only self-imposed pre-requisite for these books is that they are to be “funfunfun” and unrelated to my PhD research.)

The five challenges I’ve decided to take on are:

  • Authors A to Z Reading Challenge
  • Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge
  • Monthly Key Word Challenge
  • Monthly Motif Challenge
  • Back to the Classics Challenge

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2015 Authors A to Z Suggestions

A massive thanks to those who have signed up for the 2015 Authors A to Z Reading Challenge—I hope you’re all as excited as I am to dig into those delicious books!

A few of you have commented on the difficulty of finding Q, X, and Z authors, and I thought I’d compile a list of suggestions. Q and Z were surprisingly easy to find (as evidenced by a browse through my local library and Oxfam bookshop), but X has been quite a tricky one indeed.

Q: Anthony Quinn; Karen Quinn; Julia Quinn; Amanda Quick; Erica Quest; Matthew Quick, Ellery Queen (thanks, Karen!). Also check out Wiki.
X: XU Xi; XUE Xinran; Malcom X (thanks, Lisa!).
Z: Carlos Ruiz Zafón; Paul Zindel; Markus Zusak; Cecily von Ziegesar; Helen Zahavi, Emile Zola; Gabrielle Zevin (thanks, Karen!). Also check out Wiki.

If you know of any other authors, please let me know in a comment and I’ll add it to the list. Hope this helps!

2014 Wrap-up Post

This is certainly been quite a busy book year for me, during which I read a total of 57 “funfunfun” books. Pair this with the kazillion things I have to read for work (a PhD in Shakespeare), and it’s no wonder my eyesight has gone out the window!

My booktastic Christmas tree this year.

I’m also really pleased to have completed both the reading challenges I decided to take up back in March. I’m really glad I decided to take on the challenges, because they motivated me to read some fantastic books I wouldn’t have otherwise come across (though I’ve also had to trawl through some pretty awful stuff). So here are all the non-work books I read in 2014:

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Reviews: A December Assortment

December was a pretty interesting month (as I’m sure it was for you as well), but I managed to read all the books I’d needed to finish both my 2014 reading challenges. I’ll be putting together a wrap-up posts of sorts in the next few days, but for now, here are the books I read this past month:

53. Robert M. Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (6 Dec)
54. Arnošt Lustig – Lovely Green Eyes (14 Dec)
55. Marcus Pfister – The Rainbow Fish (15 Dec)
56. Barbara Kyle – The Queen’s Captive (25 Dec)
57. Emily Gillmor Murphy – You & I (26 Dec)

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Waffles in Antwerp (Belgium)

So I recently went to Antwerp (in Belgium) for a couple of days, during which I ate a couple of waffles. And then a couple more waffles. Mmm, waffles…

But as much fun as it is to eat waffles, it was even more fun to photograph and write about the noms. And so, here we are!

Antwerp has a cathedral. And also waffles.

Antwerp has a cathedral. And also waffles.

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Reviews: November (Xenophobes, Dumas, and more chick lit)

November was, in short, an insane month on my end. I took the last week off to “catch-up” with “life things” (such as going to Belgium and doing NaNoWriMo and reading), which was when I managed to read these books (few as they are). Anyway, books!

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2015 Authors A to Z Reading Challenge – Sign-up

After spending the past year working on Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book’s Alphabet Soup Challenge (for which I’m nearing completion–you can follow my progress here), I had a brainwave and thought I’d like to do something similar next year, but this time for authors instead of book titles. And so, with great pleasure and excitement, I’d like to announce that I will be hosting the 2015 Authors A to Z Reading Challenge!

2015-authors-banner
Here are the details/rules:

– The challenge runs from 1 January to 31 December 2015
– Read a book written by authors with last names from A to Z, and try to collect every letter of the alphabet
– Only last names count, so William Shakespeare would fall under S, not W
– Speaking of Shakespeare, the books you read may fall under any form/genre: prose, poetry, drama; fiction, non-fiction, academic monographs…
– Your books don’t have to be “physical” either–ebooks and audiobooks are more than welcome!
– Crossovers with other challenges and re-reads are also more than welcome!
– You do not need to have a blog or review the books in order to participate–having a list somewhere (such as GoodReads) is fine
– Sign-ups are open till 30 November 2015
– Come December 2015, I’ll be making a post for you to submit your completed challenges. If you manage to finish by 31 Dec 2015, then you’ll be in the running for a booktastic prize draw!

How to join:

– If you’re a blogger, grab the challenge banner and link back to this post to help spread the word and encourage others to join! Fill out the form below, and include a link to your challenge sign-up post (not to your overall blog).
– If you’re a non-blogger, keep track of your authors list any way you wish (I know quite a few people start up a challenge bookshelf on Goodreads), and use the form below to fill out your details (and perhaps a link to your challenge bookshelf, if you’re setting one up).

If you want to follow my blog, I may post special challenge-related announcements throughout the year; alternatively, just check back during December 2015. I have compiled a list of author suggestions for Q, X, and Z, which you can find here. I’ll be participating in the challenge too, and in case you’re interested, here’s my list. If you have any other questions, please feel free to drop me a comment.

And that’s it, really! Happy reading, and all the best with the challenge!

Reviews: July to October, with quite a bit of YA (and some “classics”)

Hihihihiii from Belfast! I know it’s been aaaaaages since I’ve posted, but things have been rather hectic with the move from Sydney back to the UK. In addition, I had quite a few writing projects going on during August (hence no books were read then!), and I’m now back to my PhD, which comes with its own set of eyeball-killing books… Anyway, here’s what I’ve been reading over the last few months–some amazing titles, and some awful ones (unfortunately).

39. Lauren Oliver – Delirium (2 July)
40. Elizabeth Harrower – In Certain Circles (17 July)
41. Alice Munro – Dear Life (31 July)
42. Kim Harrison — Dead Witch Walking (12 September)
43. Natsume Soseki – Kokoro (trans. Meredith McKinney) (14 September)
44. Lois Lowry – Gathering Blue (20 September)
45. Lauren Willig – The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (28 September)
46. Classical Literary Criticism (3 Oct)
47. Cath Crowley – Graffiti Moon (4 Oct)
48. Anne Bishop – Written in Red (10 Oct)
49. Claudia Carroll – A Very Accidental Love Story (25 Oct)

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