reading

June 2015 Reads

3:19 pm


Another month has passed, and this one has certainly been varied when it comes to reading. I was fortunate to receive Disappear Home, A Glance Backward, The Lost Art of Sinking, One, Everything Everything, and Night on Fire all from publishers on NetGalley. My favourites from this group were certainly the last two, and reviews for them can be found here and here.

My female writers count was very high this month, with ten out of fifteen books read being written by or including pieces written by women: Disappear Home, The Vagenda, The Lost Art of Sinking, The Beautifull Cassandra, One, Captain Marvel Volume 2, How to Be Both, Everything Everything, Radical Self Love, and The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse. I've previously written about the anthology from The Emma Press, so I will link that here for you to read! 

Stand-out reads for the month are definitely How to Be Both (which I am yet to review but one will be up shortly) and Night on Fire. I was also very certain that I didn't hugely enjoy Disappear Home, giving it only two stars on Goodreads, but I've found myself thinking about its story since finishing it. Maybe that's a sign I should give my rating a rethink.

Onto another wonderful month of reading, hopefully.

M x

reading

Alphabet TBR - I to O

3:42 pm



Part two of my 'Alphabet TBR' posts, and this time we're looking at titles beginning with letters I through to O, excluding any titles that begin with 'The'. If you missed the first part, you can find it here and please comment if you've read any of the books I've mentioned as I'd love to know what you thought of them. This time there's an odd amount of N and M books; maybe my eyes were just drawn to them on the shelf.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - Many of you will have heard of this book a long time ago, but for those who haven't it's the story of a recently murdered girl watching her family's grief from the afterlife. I'm not expecting it to be a fun read, but I've heard it's very bizarre and, obviously, dark so I'm looking forward to picking it up.

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby - A very odd choice for me to pick up in a secondhand bookshop years back, but I've never read any of Hornby's work before and hadn't actually heard of this one before I bought it. From what I've read about it, it's based around email correspondence between two lonely souls, and I'm expecting it to give me the warm fuzzies as well as make me laugh.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton - One of the 'it' books of last year/this year, most bookish people will have heard of or seen The Miniaturist in their local bookshop. It's a piece of historical fiction set in 1686 Amsterdam as protagonist Nella begins her life as the wife of a trader. Long story short, he gives her a miniature model of their home and spooky things begin to happen, with the model reflecting perfectly the events happening in their real house. I am very excited to read this. 

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai - The memoir of Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head by the Taliban at age fifteen for speaking out about the right of Pakistani girls to education. Malala is a deeply inspiring individual and one who could not be silenced by the attempt on her life, setting up the Malala Fund as a way to empower young girls into pursuing secondary education, and I'm eager to read in more detail about her experiences.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami - Without exaggeration, everything Murakami has written is on my TBR, but this is the only one I currently own. I have no idea what this is about, I only know I want to read it as soon as humanly possible.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters - A book on the reading list for a feminism module I was eager to take for the second term of my MA, but never got on to due to a series of unfortunate events. Sob.

The Kingdom of Infinite Space by Raymond Tallis - Non-fiction about the brain. I'm into it.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman - When finding the page for this on Goodreads to link here, it took me way too long to realise Northern Lights and The Golden Compass are the same thing and that I've been using them interchangeably for my entire life without acknowledging it. That aside, everybody knows this series, and I was fortunate enough to find all three books together in my local secondhand book shop for under £3 as a set.

Motherlines by Suzy McKee Charnas - More feminist utopian fiction (stop me now before I get totally obsessed). This is the sequel to Walk to the End of the World which I also haven't read but W is for a whole different post.

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett - The second book in the Discworld series and one I really, really need to get to. I'm planning on rereading The Color of Magic as soon as I can before this one as it's been many, many years since I read it the first time.

Inferno by Dante - Because we all should.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick - One of the kings of science fiction. This is set in an alternate version of the 1960s where slavery is legal and the US is occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan after the allies lost the war. I adore alternate histories so this is right up my street. There's also a newish television series based on it, apparently.

M x

reading

Alphabet TBR - A to H

7:56 pm



Here are some books on my physical TBR shelves that start with any letter between A and H. A short but sweet little series, introducing you to a few things I've got hiding away on my bookcases! Turns out there are a lot of As and Bs in this selection, completely unintentionally.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - The sequel to Wolf Hall which I read last year and rather enjoyed. I found Mantel's writing style rather trying, however, so this probably isn't one I'll get to any time soon.

Ammonite by Nicola Griffith - Utopian/dystopian feminist science fiction that I couldn't turn down. Plus I love these Gollancz matching editions they do of classic science fiction. Their yellow spines look wonderful together on my shelf.

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene - A classic that I just feel needs to be read. I'm a sucker for the 1930s in fiction.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis - If I ever want to not sleep.

Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald - This was one I ordered preemptively off my MA reading list before they had updated it for the new year and decided not to teach it. I'm still very interested in giving this a go, however.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - For shits and giggles.

The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno - I honestly cannot remember why I bought this but it's such a wonderful edition and the premise sounds intriguing: the tale of a man who, as a boy detective, suffers the loss of his partner-in-detecting (his sister) and is recently turned out of a mental institution to find a very strange world indeed. He befriends some lonely children and hi-jinks ensue.

Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie - See Austerlitz.

Foe by J. M. Coetzee - Recommended by a friend back at university, this is the story of Robinson Crusoe from the untold perspective of a woman living on the island.

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald - See Brighton Rock, but 1910s.

Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O' Toole - A non-fiction work on breaking gender stereotypes. So many five star reviews on Goodreads! This is the book I'm most excited about getting to, and just look at that cover. It's stunning.

M x

reading

Book Review: Ronald Kidd's Night on Fire*

4:28 pm


*I was fortunate to receive an eARC of this book via NetGalley and Albert Whitman & Company, thank you!*

On the 17th June of this year, nine people were killed in a shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The murders were one of racial hatred and have shook the world as yet another in a long line of deaths of black Americans this year. The book Night on Fire is set in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, centering around actions of activists in their local church, and shows in the context of these recent murders how, painfully, very little has changed in the last fifty years.

Night on Fire is narrated by thirteen-year-old Billie Sims, a white girl living unaware of her own prejudices, who, through a series of race-related events, becomes involved in Civil Rights activism in her local area. She befriends the daughter of her family's maid and they set out to join the 'Freedom Riders', a group of black and white people riding buses together unsegregated. For a piece of middle-grade fiction, I found this book wonderful, not lessening the destruction and violence caused by racial hatred for a younger audience, or speaking about it in a 'round about' way. Billie is not painted as a one-of-a-kind white wonder child who lives her life unaffected by internalised racism. She becomes aware of her own prejudices through the duration of the story and strives to change the prejudices of those around her in her own thirteen-year-old way. In fact, all of the characters in this book have their issues, and that's what makes them human and able to empathise with. 

I don't want to spoil anything about Night on Fire because I found it such a refreshing, quick and educating read, one I would recommend to anyone. In light of recent events I find it an even more important read for young people as it has become even more obvious to us all that racism is not disappearing with the new generation, but still very much prevalent. The murderer of these nine people (Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman, and Myra Thompson) was a twenty-one-year-old white supremacist, and that's all I'm going to say about him, because he is not the one who deserves naming. It's over fifty years since the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement and we're still living in this world who cannot accept people for who they are.

You can learn more about the Emanuel AME Church shooting here and there is a link on the Church's website where you can give donations if you desire.

M x

interview

Interview: Rebecca Mascull on Song of the Sea Maid* and Eighteenth-Century Female Scientists

9:00 am

As some of you may have seen already, I recently reviewed the phenomenally beautiful Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull on this blog, a book I fell in deep love with. After chatting to Rebecca on Twitter for a while (she's lovely!) we decided to take part in a little interview with each other so you wonderful readers, and anybody else who joins in along the way, can find out a little more about her and Song of the Sea Maid. I hope you enjoy reading this, and stay tuned as on a later date we will hopefully be conducting another interview about her previous novel, The Visitors. Watch this space!


HPC: Who inspired you at first to write? I know you were particularly interesting in emulating the style of eighteenth-century prose when writing Song of the Sea Maid, but are there any authors who particularly influenced your style for either this novel or The Visitors?

RM: I did enjoy books as a child, particularly anything fantastical, such as Dr Dolittle talking to animals or Enid Blyton’s enchanted woods and flying chairs. In my teens, I read quite a lot of stuff about the paranormal and also studied classics for A-level and at university. Later, I read the whole of Dickens and I’d say he is hugely influential for me, largely in that I aspire to write books that have interesting characters and plots, yet also have something to say. So, I think I have quite an eclectic taste in literature. While preparing to write Song of the Sea Maid I read a range of 18th century novels, such as Tobias Smollett, Henry Fielding, Daniel Defoe and Samuel Richardson, and I would say their varying prose styles, prevailing opinions and subject matter did influence me in the writing of this book. One of my favourites was The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, which is just mental! I defy anyone to read that and not laugh or at least shake their heads at the madness of it all. Just brilliant.


HPC: What gave you the idea to write Song of the Sea Maid? Was there a particular event in your life?


RM: I have always been fascinated by science, though I don’t have the brain for it really. I used to stay up all night talking about science with my scientifically-minded brother and try to retain some of what he taught me for longer than five minutes. I’ve wanted to write a novel about a scientist for years and once I realised that my favourite kind of settings were historical, I decided to come up with a tale of an historical female scientist. My premise for this story was the idea that there may well have been people with brilliant minds throughout history who were disenfranchised in one way or another - for example, by class, race, gender etc - and therefore posterity has never recorded their ideas. I wondered what would happen if a poor, orphaned female a hundred years before Charles Darwin came up with some ground-breaking theories - would anyone listen?


HPC: Dawnay is a brilliant, strong female character. Did any characters, in fiction or real life, inspire her creation?


RM: The fascinating thing about the history of women in science is that there are so many of them and yet there is so little common knowledge of them. Nobody built statues of them and only recently are people starting to write books about the subject and reveal these hidden histories. Two scientists I found particularly inspiring were Sophie Germain and Emilie du Chatelet. The latter was a scientific genius living in the 18th-century who translated Newton as well as carrying out a range of experiments and writing her own theories. The former was so determined to learn mathematics that she defied her parents, sent letters to leading experts of her day and eventually was begrudgingly given an education. Yet these two are just the tip of the iceberg, so if anyone is interested in pursuing the history of women in science, do read a marvellous book I used in my research called Hypatia’s Heritage by Margaret Alic. You won’t believe how many female scientists there have been throughout history - let’s hope one day some of these figures have statues built for them and we study them in school…



HPC: What is the most interesting thing you learned about the period in which Song of the Sea Maid is set whilst researching?


RM: Ooh, that is a hard one to answer! I enjoyed the 18th-century setting so much. I didn’t know much about it before I began researching and found that the fabric of everyday life was quite alien to me. It was the everyday things, like people travelling in sedan chairs or most men wearing wigs and most women wearing stays all of the time. It just seems so strange now. However, I think the thing that fascinated me most was the feeling that some aspects of modern life were developing in this period too, such as people hanging around in coffee shops reading newspapers and chatting about politics and fashion, complaining about the traffic and that the youth of today are all going to the dogs. Remove the wigs and you’d have a familiar scene from any city centre today!



HPC: Do you personally have an interest in natural history and science? Did you have much knowledge of the topics before writing?


RM: As I mentioned above, I have always been fascinated by science. Although I’m not very good at it, my strongest scientific subject at school was Biology and I got a grade A at ‘O’ Level through sheer hard work, because I was so interested in it, I was determined to learn it and do well, though I did not find it easy at all. My interest in natural history, Charles Darwin, evolution and all that kind of thing largely comes from my mum, who is a bit of a Darwin expert, and also from my stepdad, who is a botanist and taught me a lot about plants. One of my favourite topics in science is the study of palaeoanthropology - the evolution of humans - and I’ve read many books and watched many documentaries about the subject over the years. It’s also a very controversial subject and much of it is based on conjecture rather than hard evidence, due to the enormous time gap between us and the subjects of our study. Therefore, anything controversial to me is an excellent subject for a novelist!

HPC: Song of the Sea Maid has only just been released, but do you have any early plans to write another novel? Are there any other literary forms that might interest you, like poetry or the short story?

RM: I studied quite a lot of poetry when I was younger and have my favourites, particularly Robert Frost, Philip Larkin and, on the lighter side, John Hegley! But I don’t have the skills to write it myself. I do enjoy reading short stories – some of my favourites are Raymond Carver, Katherine Mansfield, Lorrie Moore, Annie Proulx, Anton Chekhov, Ernest Hemingway, amongst others. But I am absolutely rubbish at writing short stories. I find them so difficult to do well – I’ve tried a few in the past and I think I can safely say they were all crap. So, I’ve admitted defeat and turned to my favourite form – the novel. I’ve read and enjoyed just about every kind of text there is, but I keep coming back to the novel as the height of everything I feel literature is trying to achieve. It’s just my opinion, but I believe the novel to be one of the supreme acts of being human. I basically worship novels! And I’m honoured to play a small part in that tradition.

I am currently working on Book 3 for Hodder and Stoughton, which I can’t say much about, apart from the fact that it is set in Cleethorpes (near where I live) and begins in 1909. After that, who knows! Though I do have a few ideas kicking around for future books, which I put safely away in boxes on my shelf and they wait patiently me to get round to them…

Song of the Sea Maid is OUT NOW and I would recommend with all my heart that you pick up a copy! It's stunningly beautiful and inspiring. I'd like to thank Rebecca heartily for offering to take part in this interview with me.

M x

reading

Book Review: Nicola Yoon's Everything, Everything*

9:00 am


*I was fortunate to receive an eARC of this book via NetGallery and Penguin Random House, thank you!*

I expect most people reading this post who have an involvement with the online book community have heard of Nicola Yoon's highly anticipated debut Everything, Everything because of its interesting subject matter for a young adult novel. Maddy has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) which, in short summary, means she is allergic to such a vast amount of things that she cannot leave the house in case it triggers her illness. She has an incredibly strong relationship with her mother, who is also her doctor, as they play games, watch films, and spend all of their time that she isn't at work together. Maddy is home-schooled, has no friends from the outside world, and lives mainly to read, one of her favourite novels being The Little Prince. One day, a new family moves in next door and, drumroll please, they have a son of a similar age to Maddy. Cue googly eyes and window watching. However, this story completely took me by surprise. Expecting a YA romance with a bit of an edge but generally the same story, I was pleased to find myself reading something with a lot more drama than I anticipated, and a lot more story. 

I found the character of Olly, the boy-next-door, irritating to say the least and your typical 'edgy teenage boy in a YA novel' (beanie hats, dark jeans, lots of black, brooding but secretly soft) but this was balanced out by the character of Maddy. I was happy to see a leading character in a YA novel, if not any kind of novel, who wasn't white, but half-Japanese and half-African American, and there was very little of that 'not like other girls' spiel you get in other books of the genre (I'm looking at you Eleanor and Park). She's intelligent without being obnoxious and, without going into spoilers here, she took risks by thinking them through rather than being completely irrational. Thumbs up from me.

I can see why this book has been getting such rave early reviews, and I would recommend it to anybody who is a fan of young adult novels as this is such a pleasant escape away from what you would normally be expecting. I'm not really a fan of books that focus on a teen girl-boy relationship, but this novel had enough other things going for it to give it substance. Everything, Everything is released late this summer in the UK.

M x 

reading

Book Review: Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking

9:00 am


It's taken me a long time to put this book review up because I've only just been able to put into words quite how I feel about this book. I finished reading it towards the end of April and now we're approaching the end of June.

I feel like Amanda Palmer has always been a part of my life. I remember being introduced to The Dresden Dolls when I was in school, rediscovering her when she married my favourite fantasy writer (Neil Gaiman), and she's been pretty much permanently on my radar ever since, especially through Twitter. She's a social media and internet addict, always in contact with her fans, so I'd recommend you go and follow her on as many things as possible.

The Art of Asking is part-autobiography, part-self-help book, a combination that seems to be flourishing in the book market at the moment with another example being Amy Poehler's Yes Please. I haven't read Poehler's autobiography, but from reading Palmer's book, I can see how the combination can be inspiring, heart-breaking, and hilarious.

Amanda takes us through her life starting from her experience as a street performer, namely a human statue dressed as a bride. She brings all of her ideas and advice in this book back to her street performance and how that job requires you to be perpetually asking people for help or acceptance. She carries on with her life, talking about recording her music either with The Dresden Dolls or solo, her infamous Kickstarter campaign for her latest album, her tours, her marriage to Neil, illness, love, loss, friendship, journeys across the world, meeting new people, meeting fans, changing lives, and having her own life changed. The stories she tells are incredibly varied and at times massively shocking. I found myself amazing that somebody, and almost definitely more than just her, lives a life like this, where wonderful, heartfelt, and fairytale (good and bad) things happen to her on a regular basis. 

The self-help part of this book focuses on 'the art of asking', or removing the fear of asking for help or asking for things from your life. Aligned with her personal stories where asking for things has helped her hugely towards her happiness or her goals, I personally find this a very good concept and her advice has been stuck in my head ever since.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read inspiring, almost fairytale-like, stories of a life that has gone up and down, down again, and back up, continually. Even though I was a fan of Palmer before reading, I don't think you have to have that mindset before reading. It's open for anybody to explore, with Palmer's warmth inviting you in for a hug, or a biscuit, or a song written about you. I'm certainly going to be rereading this whenever I feel I need to because the entire experience felt like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a best friend on a bad day.

M x

haul

A June Book Haul

9:00 am


My local secondhand bookshop never, ever lets me down. Just look at these wonderful things I picked up during the week. An uncorrected proof of The Sin Eater's Daughter definitely comes at the top of the list, and this isn't the first time I've found a proof here, which leads me to believe a reviewer or someone who works in publishing lives locally. I'm excited to give this a read as it has so many good reviews from people I follow on Goodreads. I also picked up another Stephen King book to add to my collection of Stephen King novels I haven't read. I've heard amazing things about the Dark Tower series so picking up the first volume, The Gunslinger, seemed like a brilliant idea.  I found this cute little edition of Carrie's War at the bottom of a pile and new it was a children's classic I probably should've read by now.

Now, as you can see here, there are three books evidently from the same series with gorgeous typography and colours. I hadn't ever seen this series of reprints before, but after researching I can tell you the series is called 'Stranger Than...', published in 2007 by Harper Perennial, and contains only non-fiction and autobiographical works. You can see the full list here and it has some very exciting titles on it. I managed to pick up In the Heart of the Sea (the story that inspired Moby Dick), Reading Lolita in Tehran, and The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly. They look so attractive together on my shelf and I'm really looking forward to hunting down a few more from the collection, namely Angela's Ashes and Toast.

M x

reading

Summer Books, Part Two

10:44 am


In case you missed Part One of my summer book recommendations, you can find it here! We will continue where we left off:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum - I've been the film more times than I can count on all of my digits, but I found out recently exactly how many books there are in the series (about 14, blimey) and knew I had to give them a good go. So far this is the only one I've read but to me it just feels like summer

The Lost Art of Sinking* by Naomi Booth - A very recent read I found on NetGalley and rather enjoyed. It tells the story of Esther, obsessed with a game she used to play in school that involved holding your breath until you feel swoony. It's a very quick, very odd read, but the whole thing has an atmosphere of hazy summer days.

Submarine by Joe Dunthorne - Submarine is up there as one of my all-time favourite films, so I naturally couldn't help but feel a little disappointed when the book wasn't at all similar. However, the book standing by itself is still very enjoyable and gives a hilarious view of what being a self-involved teenager is really like. It feels a lot darker than the adaptation but in that way I think it's more realistic.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan - This book. This book. An absolutely beautiful depiction of how people's lives can so easily intertwine over the years but in such bizarre, farfetched ways. Please read this book.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I think this is the summer novel, even if I wasn't a huge fan of it myself.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - Read this book in the summer sunshine and pretend you're in Italy, Indonesia, and India. I feel like I want to reread this book every month because of the way it made me feel. Don't watch the film though, it's naff.

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman - What's summer without a hidden single-sex utopia? Don't expect this to live up to your contemporary feminist expectations because it was written in 1915, but some of it is rather inspired.

Joyland by Stephen King - My first foray into Stephen King two summers ago probably shouldn't have been something so recent, but I enjoyed it all the same. This book takes place over, if I remember correctly, Spring Break and details a teenage boy's ventures into love and death. It's spooky and reminds me of old school murder mysteries, rather than anything deeply horrific and psychological. A very fun summer read.

Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire - One of my favourite graphic novel collections, it's about a boy-deer hybrid who has been raised in isolation and now must fend for himself in a deeply dangerous and judgmental world. I fell in love with these characters and still feel a loss after it ending

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf - A summer day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway.

M x

reading

Summer Books, Part One

9:00 am


After watching Jen Campbell's 'Recommended Summer Reads' video, I was inspired to compile my own list of books that either remind me of summer or are set in summer for those interested. Naturally, I am writing this wearing a pair of dungarees and have split the post in two because I picked far too many to fit into one. A lot are books I read in the past and no longer own copies of, hence their disappearance from the photo. Let's get started:

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood - Read for my second year of university, in this Atwood tells the story of Elaine, an artist who returns to her hometown and begins to reminisce about her childhood there, particularly remembering a friend of hers with whom she had a strained relationship. Her flashbacks are intertwined with her rediscovering her city and when I think about the story, I just remember beautiful natural imagery with fields of flowers and young girls running about on adventures.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - The classic, which Jen also mentioned in her video. There's not much explanation needed here. It's a story full of flowers, toadstools, animals, and tea parties. I absolutely love my copy of the book, with wonderful, wacky illustrations by Yayoi Kusama.

Matilda by Roald Dahl - Matilda doesn't so much remind me of summer but of the endless summer of childhood. When I think back to when I was young, it was always summer (or Christmas, obviously) and I would always be watching Matilda. I don't know anybody who does not love this story.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - This book is quite possibly my favourite book of all time, and manages to both remind me of the height of summer and the cool depths of winter. I've gushed about this before all over my blog, but I would honestly recommend this to anyone. Another story concerning flashbacks to childhood, Kathy thinks back to her time at Hailsham, a boarding school for children with a mysterious unknown purpose. She remembers her friends, Ruth and Tommy, and the relationships they had with each other. It's heartbreaking, beautifully written, with a wonderful sense of place.

Song of the Sea Maid* by Rebecca Mascull - I've recently written about this book in another blog post, so head there if you want more details, but this book covers the life of Dawnay Price, an orphan who finds herself fascinated by science and endeavors to become the natural philosopher she dreams to be. This book filled me with such a love for the great outdoors and summertime adventures, and I will probably end up rereading it by the end of the year!

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan - I read this book such a long time ago, I honestly couldn't give you a detailed run-down of what happens, but the opening chapter will always stick with me. No spoilers, but the image of a summer's day with a picnic and a hot air balloon features.

Holes by Louis Sachar - This was pretty much my favourite book when I was younger and will always hold a place in my heart. Stanley Yelnats is sent to Camp Greenlake, a place for delinquent young boys, after a misunderstanding and is forced along with his fellow 'prisoners' to dig holes all day in the desert sun. A lot happens in this book that you wouldn't expect and you can't help but feel the blazing sun as you read about Stanley's exploits.

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare - The summer play. I will never tire of this story and if you haven't read it, you must.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - I would be surprised if you haven't heard of Wild, but if you haven't it's an autobiographical work telling the story of when Cheryl decided to trek the Pacific Crest Trail solo after the death of her mother and the disintegration of her marriage. I really struggled to put this book down the whole time I was reading it and felt like I was journeying the trek with Cheryl as she attempted to piece her life back together.

Stay tuned for part two, coming soon,
M x

reading

Rainbow TBR Selections: Monochrome

9:00 am


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon - this cover is just too beautiful. I very rarely pick up brand new copies of books from book shops (favouring a rummage around second-hand shelves) but this was an exception. Really looking forward to reading this but the sheer size of it is slightly off-putting.

Selected Poems 1923-1958 by e. e. cummings - another first-hand book to further my venture into the world of poetry. I really like these minimalist editions from Faber.

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink - saw the film, absolutely loved it, cried a lot, picked this up second-hand recently for 95p.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie - another unread Christie, another wonderful old cover.

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace - I am clearly a masochist, like anybody else willing to try and read DFW. I like to think of this as bridging the gap between reading his short stories, working your way up to Infinite Jest (it will never happen).

The Orestian Trilogy by Aeschylus - bought when still at university after studying a drama module and pretending I knew what I was doing. Also this cover technically isn't monochrome but I think it's really cool so thought it was worth including.

M x

reading

Rainbow TBR Selections: Green/Blue

9:00 am


The Stand by Stephen King - a huge, very well-loved, second-hand copy that I've had lying around for ages. The spine is actually curved inward from being previously read.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith - picked up from my local second-hand book shop recently, and an uncorrected bound proof, so there must be someone working in the business nearby!

The Egyptian Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods and Legends by Garry L. Shaw - a gorgeous hardback as part of Thames & Hudson's myths and legends series. I also have a copy of their Greek and Roman myths version which is a lovely deep blue shade.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell - to add to my collection of unread David Mitchell books.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut - a modern classic that I really should have read by now, with no real excuse because it's so short.

Four Ways to Forgiveness by Ursula K. Le Guin - mentioned in my recent sci-fi post, found, once again, that my magical local second-hand book shop.

M x



reading

Rainbow TBR Selections: Orange/Yellow

9:00 am


A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess - an amazing hardcover 'banned books' edition from The Independent. I've attempted and given up reading this book twice before, but I'm really hoping that this year is THE year.

The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek - I don't remember buying this but after reading the synopsis on Goodreads, I can understand why I did. Disturbing, twisted, and dark.

Tolkien: A Dictionary by David Day - it's hardback, it's faux-leather, it's Tolkien and everything about his creations. In dictionary form.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro - after Never Let Me Go becoming one of my all-time favourite books, I decided to pick up Ishiguro's most popular work. His writing is so stunning, I definitely need more of it in my life.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming - I initially read this absolutely years ago, and remember loving it, so I think it's due a reread before I delve further into the world of 007 once more.

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope - absolutely no explanation needed.

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reading

Rainbow TBR Selections: Red

5:15 pm


With bonus puppy in a coincidentally suitable red kerchief!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - picked up for 95p from my local secondhand book shop to add to my selection of post-9/11 American fiction

There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbour's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - you can't really turn down a book with a title like that, can you? I really want to pick up Ludmilla's other short story collections too as they have equally intriguing names.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami - I think this probably counts as a modern classic, and cover is incredibly beautiful in its simplicity. Good job, Vintage.

Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg - been on my shelves half-read for far too long, and probably should be double the length now Pegg has done about a thousand more things.

4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie - a gorgeous reprinted hardback edition from HarperCollins of a Christie classic that I've honestly never read. 

Moab is My Washpot by Stephen Fry - another half-read autobiography, and Fry's first of many that covers his childhood.

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